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Thursday, June 10, 1999 Published at 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK


Sir Paul's GM foods pledge

Sir Paul answers questions at the GM press conference

Pop legend Sir Paul McCartney has pledged to lead a campaign against genetically-modified foods and has spent £3m to ensure his late wife's vegetarian meals range is GM-free.

The 57 year-old also said he would ensure that there was no risk of contamination with GM food in the Linda McCartney Foods range by replacing soya in the recipes with wheat.

Sir Paul McCartney: "People do not want GMOs in their food"
McCartney's announcement at a specially called press conference in London follows a report in February this year when the BBC's Newsnight programme claimed to have found a small trace of GM contamination in soya used in the Linda McCartney range.

The ex-Beatle said at the time that the trace - which was later found to be less than 0.5% - was unacceptable to the McCartney family who are opposed to GM food.

[ image: Paul and Linda enjoy a burger at the launch of the range]
Paul and Linda enjoy a burger at the launch of the range
Dressed in a suit, white shirt and dark tie, he said: "Since Linda launched her vegetarian meals in 1991 we have established a trust with our customers and we have taken these steps as an honest move to preserve that trust.

"It is also important to us to maintain consumer choice - like us, many people do not want to have any GMOs in their food.

"Earlier this year, people were dangerously close to having no choice in that. We have made these moves to give people their right of choice back."

The Linda McCartney factory at Fakenham, Norfolk, has been temporarily closed and steam-cleaned to ensure it is a GM-free zone.

The new range has been strictly tested at every stage of production over the last four weeks and no trace of GM matter has been found.

The brand will also spearhead a campaign against GM food with every pack of the 38 varieties in the range bearing the stamp Say No To GMO.

When his wife Linda died of breast cancer last year, Sir Paul pledged to continue her fight to promote vegetarianism.

Sir Paul also said he disagreed with Prime Minister Tony Blair's support for GM food.

"I can understand what he is doing. He does not want people to panic." But he added: "I think he is wrong. I don't think there is enough evidence about the problems which might arise through GM food."

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