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Wednesday, 22 December, 1999, 00:10 GMT
Monsanto's caterers ban GM foods

beans GM Foods: Off the Monsanto menu

By Environment correspondent Alex Kirby

A company responsible for providing catering services for the biotechnology company Monsanto has banned some genetically-modified ingredients.

We have taken the decision to remove, as far as is practicable, GM soya and maize from all food products served in our restaurant
Mike Batchelor
Granada quality systems director
The company, Sutcliffe Catering, is owned by Granada Food Services and is responsible for catering at some of Monsanto's UK premises.

Environmental campaigners said the measure showed Monsanto's caterers had no confidence in the company's GM products.

Friends of the Earth spokesman Adrian Bebb said: "The public has made its concerns about GM ingredients very clear.

"Now it appears that even Monsanto's own catering firm has no confidence in this new technology."

Friends of the Earth has obtained a statement made by Granada's quality systems director, Mike Batchelor, and dated 15 September 1999.

It says: "In response to concern raised by our customers over the use of GMFs [genetically-modified foods], and to comply with government legislation, we have taken the decision to remove, as far as is practicable, GM soya and maize from all food products served in our restaurant".

"We will continue to work with our suppliers to replace GM soya and maize with non-GM ingredients without impairing quality or performance.

"To maintain customer choice we will sell retail products, such as confectionery, that are packaged and labelled by the manufacturer as containing GM soya and maize, where it is appropriate.

"We have taken the above steps to ensure that you, the customer, can feel confident in the food we serve."

Belief in choice

Monsanto's spokesman, Tony Coombes, said that Sutcliffe Catering ran the canteens at the company's High Wycombe headquarters.

placard Protest reached the gates of Downing Street
"We believe in choice. At our Cambridge restaurant there is a notice which says that some products may contain GM ingredients, because our staff are happy to eat products sprayed with fewer chemicals."

Friends of the Earth called the news "a tremendous victory for consumers".

A survey by the group last May found that 24 out of 30 leading food manufacturers operating in the UK said they had removed GM ingredients and derivatives, or were doing so.

Unhappy legislators

Caterers at the House of Commons serve food that avoids GM ingredients "in response to the general unease about such foods expressed by significant numbers of our customers".

At the Welsh and Scottish Assemblies, caterers also have a policy of avoiding GM ingredients, and the European Parliament has banned them too.

Friends of the Earth say that by the end of the year all the UK's leading supermarkets will have removed GM ingredients from their own label food, and are phasing out GM derivatives as well. Many restaurant chains are following suit
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See also:
14 Dec 99 |  Sci/Tech
US court challenge to Monsanto
15 Dec 99 |  Sci/Tech
Farmers urged to abandon GM trials
22 Oct 99 |  Sci/Tech
Health risks reduced by GM corn
18 Oct 99 |  Sci/Tech
Ministers 'ignoring public' on GM food

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