A coalition of US consumer and environmental groups launched a national campaign last week, aimed at stopping food companies from using genetically modified (GM) ingredients. 'This is going to be the first sort of sustained effort on the European model', said Philip E Clapp of the National Environmental Trust, one of the groups in the coalition.
The campaign, called the Genetically Engineered Food Alert, has selected the Campbell Soup Company as its first target. Andrew Kimbrell, director of the Center for Food Safety, said that Campbell's does not use genetically engineered ingredients in Europe, and should do the same in the US. John Faulkner, a spokesman for Campbell, said the company has no intention of dropping the GM corn and soybeans it uses, and that foods made with the help of biotechnology are as 'equally safe and nutritious' as conventional foods.
The group also wants all companies to label products that contain genetically engineered ingredients. But GM crops are widespread in the US - one third of the corn supply is grown from GM seed. Faulkner said that even if Campbell's wanted to eliminate such ingredients, it could not. 'We don't control the supply chain' he added.
A spokeswoman for the Food and Drug Administration said the regulations covering GM foods did not require labelling unless the nutritional value was changed or an allergen was added. 'We haven't seen any evidence that the food is unsafe' she said.
Meanwhile, in Tasmania, GM crops are to be classified as 'pest species', a move that will forbid them being brought into the island or grown there.