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Greenpeace anti-GM campaign doomed

By Jennifer Marohasy - posted Monday, 15 August 2005


Last Sunday Craig Cormich from Biotechnology Australia speaking on ABC radio made the following comment about GM in our supermarkets:

According to the supermarket chains, although they are often on the receiving end of anti-GM campaigns about their foods, there has been little to no diminution in sales of those foods that are labelled as containing GM ingredients.

Could this be put down to consumers simply not being able to find the fact that the food has a GM ingredient on the label? Perhaps. But at the deli counter in Woolworths, all across Australia, there are usually two or three types of sliced chicken loaf that is clearly labelled “contains genetically modified soy” on a plastic label, standing up by the meat. It is clear and prominent, and I make it a habit of always asking the person in the deli, wherever I travel, whether anybody comments or complains about the GM ingredients. Invariably I'm met with a blank look and the response that nobody seems fussed about it.

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I checked Cormick’s claim by visiting my local Woollies. The deli does stock chicken loaf, but there was no GM soy written on a plastic label. So I asked if I could have some chicken loaf with GM soy. On hearing my request the young man behind the counter immediately called the store manager. She arrived with a large red folder.

“What do you want to know about chicken loaf?” she asked.

I said I wanted to buy some chicken loaf that contained GM soy. She found chicken loaf in the folder.

“There is no GM soy in our chicken loaf,” she said.

“Do your donuts contain GM?” I asked.

The store manager rummaged through the folder again. While reading from a page of small print she announced with some pride, “Yes, genetically modified soy is a listed ingredient of the donuts that come in the six-packs with icing sugar”.

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“Do you get many requests for GM products?” I asked.

“No,” she replied, “What is it?”

“How long have you been managing this store?” I asked.

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About the Author

Jennifer Marohasy is a senior fellow with the Institute for Public Affairs.

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