Unilever targeted over genetic food

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The Independent Online
UNILEVER, the food giant, yesterday found itself targeted by leading green campaigners because it decided to label one of its products as containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) - foodstuffs which have been genetically engineered, writes Nicholas Schoon.

There are hundreds of products in supermarkets derived, at least in part, from GMOs and virtually none are labelled as such. This is something that the Government wants to change.

Unilever announced last year that ''Batchelors Beanfeast'' would be first to be labelled for its GMO soya bean content. The GMO beans are widely grown in the United States, and mixed with conventional beans.

Yesterday Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth supporters protested outside a Safeway supermarket in Camden, north London, that is selling the product. One wore a Frankenstein suit, and they handed out ''disloyalty'' cards to shoppers.

A Unilever spokesman said yesterday: ''We did what everybody was asking us to in declaring that a product has GMO contents, and then we get criticised. It's a little unfortunate.''

Environmental groups aretrying to persuade the public to shun GMO foods before they become ubiquitous and accepted. Adrian Bebb, food campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: ''The long term impacts of genetic engineering on farming, human health and the environment are unknown."