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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Greenpeace- India releases Safe Food Guide

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Greenpeace today released the Safe Food Guide version 2.0 that ranks 25 of the most popular food companies which hold a major share of the market in India. Based on their responsibility towards Indian consumer on the GM food issue, the Guide categorizes companies as green, yellow and red.
Dabur and KRBL emerged as the top green/ companies while Nestle, PepsiCo, Haldiram and Hindustan Unilever Ltd among others faired poorly to find themselves on the red/list.

The current and long term policies of these companies on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), their willingness to inform their position to consumers and proactiveness in ensuring a labelling and liability regime on foods derived from GM crops, were the main parameters used in this guide.

On the basis of these factors each company was assessed.

The Red list include companies like Nestle, Pepsico, Cargill, Hindustan Unilever Ltd , Britannia, Godrej Hersheys Ltd., Haldirams, MTR, Parle Biscuits Pvt. Ltd., Agrotech, Surya Foods, Amul, GSK, FieldFresh (Bharathi Enterprises] and Kelloggs. These companies have not taken any concrete steps to provide Indian consumers with GM free food for now or in future thereby being irresponsible.

Green list companies include Dabur India, KRBL Ltd. whose flagship product is India Gate rice and Vippy Industries .These companies have not only taken necessary steps to ensure that they remain GM-free now and in future but also are ready to engage with the government and relevant industry associations to keep the Indian food market free from GM food.

Yellow list companies include popular brands like Cadbury's, ITC, Ruchi Soya, LT Foods, Heinz India, Bambino Agro and Kohinoor Foods Ltd., which have said that that they are committed to sourcing ingredients that are GMO-free but are yet to take a long-term position on being GM free or share their position with the consumers.

“Even though Bt brinjal, the first GM food crop reaching commercialiation stage has been put on a hold owing to public opposition across the country earlier this year, there are field trials for over 11 crops across the country, and imports of raw materials such as corn, canola and soya all of which threaten to contaminate the food supply chains.” said Shivani Shah, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner,Greenpeace India

The brands in the guide have been listed after a 3-month long process of direct communication with them. The final categorisation of companies into green, yellow and red is based on the response of these brands to this detailed process.

The Safe Food Guide is the only tool available in India for the consumers to know how responsible is their favourite food brands in providing them GM free food. The guide is also available for consumers in handy pocket size versions at Mother Earth Stores across the country. Buyers in Karnataka can get the smaller version also at Fab India stores in Karnataka. An online version is available at www.safefoodnow.org

“The growing consumer rejection of GM foods makes it the responsibility of food companies to not only adopt long-term GM-free policies but also share this information with consumers through various media,” Shah said.

The Guide also highlights consumer attitudes towards GMOs in India. In 2010, in a consumer opinion poll conducted by GfK Mode,

  • Over half of the citizens questioned in India (53%) said they would reject food brands containing GMOs.
  • A majority (77%) have shown a preference for foods that come from ecologically grown sources.
  • 69% want packaged food to declare through labeling whether or not it contains genetically modified organisms.
  • 61% people want labeling on raw fruits, vegetables etc. and unpackaged foods as well.

It’s evident that food brands operating in India have a long way to go to in terms of providing consumers with a choice of GM free food . Greenpeace demands that food businesses pay heed to consumer demands and adopt a No GM policy at the company level and engage with government to keep the Indian market free from GM food.

source:Text taken from the Geenpeace

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