By Yuko Fukami
From Radiance Winter 2001.
Dear Friends, Moms, and Fellow Food-Eaters:
Are you concerned about the safety of
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in your food?
Have you ever wondered if your favorite cereal
or pasta was free of GMOs?
Express your concern directly to the
Call the manufacturers of your favorite foods.
Telephone numbers can be found on most packaging. It takes only about five
minutes to call, and the call is usually free.
Ask if their products are free of GMOs, and if
so, whether they plan to keep them that way. Tell them that you want to
know what you are eating. (In Asia and Europe, products containing GMOs
are labeled to reflect that fact.)
Here are some numbers I found in my cupboard:
Chef America (Hot Pockets, and so on)
Classico (International Gourmet Specialties
Five Brothers (a division of Lipton)
General Mills 800-328-1144 (cereal)
Gold Medal (General Mills) 800-345-2443
Golden Grain 800-421-2444
Heinz Frozen Food Company 800-488-0050
H.J. Heinz, USA 412-237-5740
Nabisco 800-622-4726 (cereal)
Nabisco 800-244-4596 (Jetpuffed marshmallows)
Nestlé USA 800-637-8536
Newman’s Own 203-222-0136
Safeway 925-944-4056 (or 1-800- safeway and
ask for consumer affairs)
Call as few or as many as you’d like, but do
call. Many of these manufacturers also have web sites, which will enable you
to get information and to send your comments via e-mail.
Tell your friends to call, too!
I wrote to some of these companies expressing
my concern about GMOs. Some of their responses follow. Remember, no matter
what a company’s response, your inquiry is counted as one more consumer vote
for safe food and GMO ingredient labeling!
Thank you for contacting us.
The safety of Golden Grain’s products is of
the utmost importance to us. This is why Golden Grain only uses foods that
have been declared safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA),
including foods developed through biotechnology. . .
While Golden Grain does not require or exclude
the use of these foods, the use of corn, canola and soya developed through
food biotechnology is widespread. Currently, there is no system in place in
the United States that separates these foods. So, there is a high probability
that some Golden Grain products contain foods developed through biotechnology.
Golden Grain will continue to use only foods
that are declared safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Additionally,
Golden Grain will use only foods that we believe are safe for our consumers
and their families.
We appreciate the opportunity to respond.
Consumer Response Representative
(the Golden Grain Company)
Dear Yuko Fukami:
Thank you for contacting us regarding Nestlé
USA and genetically modified ingredients. We welcome questions and comments
from our consumers regarding our products.
Nestlé USA does use some genetically grown
ingredients in some products. . . .The FDA has concluded that these foods are
the same as their un-modified counterparts in nutrition, composition and their
ability to be processed into ingredients used in the manufacture of other
foods. Additionally, the allergenic potential of these foods has not been
affected. We have carefully reviewed the safety information on these crops and
are in agreement with expert scientists at the FDA and university research
. . .Because of Nestlé USA’s own high
standards and the FDA regulations to which all of our products are subject,
you can rest assured that all of our products will remain safe. . .
Nestlé USA Consumer Services Center
Dear Mrs. Fukami:
Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding
General Mills’ position on the use of ingredients that have been modified
First and foremost, all food must be safe. It
is not only the law, but also an issue of ultimate importance to all food
manufacturers. Second, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department
of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency have all concluded that
food using ingredients from biotechnologically improved crops is completely
safe and no different in any meaningful way from other food. . .
Because of the growing use of biotechnology by
farmers and the way that grain gets co-mingled in storage and shipment, it’s
certainly possible that some of our products may contain ingredients that
have been improved through biotechnology.
General Mills . . . believes in providing
consumers with a variety of food options. Toward that end, we do offer organic
products that, by definition, do not use ingredients that have been improved
through biotechnology. Please look for organic Gold Medal flour, Sunrise
organic cereal, and a wide range of products from our Cascadian Farm and Muir
Glen brands. To get more information about our organic products, please visit
us at www.smallplanetfoods.com.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact
(General Mills Consumer Services)
Thank you for your interest in Borden Foods
products. . .
In the majority of cases it is difficult, if
not impossible, to separate out genetically modified products from traditional
foods. Those foods look the same, perform the same, and are labeled
identically in compliance with the FDA and the USDA. Where possible, we have
performed independent tests to determine the presence of genetically modified
ingredients and have found none. We have received guarantees from our
suppliers of tomatoes and wheat assuring us that they are not derived from
genetically modified (GM) plants. Soybean oil in some products may have
originated from such a source. However, our testing has not detected any GM
product in the ingredients.
The U.S. government has stated that it is
unaware of any scientifically reliable information
showing genetically engineered foods differ in any meaningful way or pose any
different safety concerns than traditional foods. . . .
We truly appreciate you sharing your concerns.
. . . Thank you for your continued patronage.
Jennie Gist, Consumer Representative
(Classico, International Gourmet Specialties Co.)
Dear Ms. Fukami:
Thank you for your phone call regarding the
composition of THE BUDGET GOURMET® Frozen Entree . . . .Heinz has responded
to concerns about GMOs throughout the world and will continue to be responsive
to changes in consumer expectations as well as regulatory policy.
Heinz seeks to avoid ingredients from
genetically modified sources. For example, in the case of tomatoes, we only
use tomatoes bred utilizing traditional breeding technology.
Heinz has been the “pure foods” company
since its founding 100 years ago. . . .We thank you again for taking the time
to share your comments with us. . . .
Consumer Affairs Representative
(Heinz Frozen Food Company)
YUKO FUKAMI lives in Berkeley, California,
with her husband and two small children. She works as a freelance editor,
writer, and translator in both English and Japanese.