GREENPEACE REVEALS GM CONTAMINATION TRAIL: FROM MONSANTO'S US LABORATORIES
TO BRITAIN'S CHICKEN MCNUGGETS
'GM-free' claims questioned by new research
A Greenpeace investigation, 'Smuggling GM in through the back door' has
revealed a trail of GM contamination which leads from Monsanto's US
laboratories to British consumers of McDonald's chicken McNuggets. The
investigation also undermines the claims by many supermarkets, producers and
fast food chains to be 'GM-free'.
The trail of GM contamination starts when Monsanto's GM soya, grown in the
US is transported to the UK via US company Cargill, the world's largest
grain carrier. GM contaminated feed is then fed to chickens by Sun Valley,
the UK's largest poultry producer, also owned by Cargill. Sun Valley's
largest customer is McDonald's.
"A few big players in the food industry are keeping alive a market for GM
contaminated food despite widespread consumer rejection," said Greenpeace
food campaigner Jim Thomas. " People who have said 'No' to GM food sending
ripples across the industry may find themselves unwittingly tucking into an
egg or portion of chicken McNuggets contaminated by GMOs."
"What Greenpeace has uncovered is merely one chain of supply. This trail of
contamination is repeated time and time again with our pork, fish, eggs and
milk," Thomas added.
Soya is the largest US export crop. Thirty million hectares of soya was
planted in 1999, mainly in the states of Illinois, Iowa and Ohio. Of this,
57% was a GM variety of soya produced by Monsanto. Monsanto sells the GM
soya via seed companies like Cargill. In the US, GM soya is mixed together
with conventional soya, either at the harvest or in the grain elevators.
Cargill's US soya is shipped from New Orleans in ocean going grain carriers
to European ports such as Rotterdam, Hamburg, Barcelona and Liverpool.
At Liverpool, Cargill operates the UK's only soya crushing mill at Gladstone
dock. After the material is processed, the oil is sold for human consumption
and the remaining GM material is sold to farms and feed mills to provide the
staple diet for cows, pigs, chickens and fish. In the UK 60% of all soya
used for animal feed is fed to poultry.
The UK's largest poultry producer in the UK is Sun Valley, which has plants
in Herefordshire, North Wales and Wolverhampton. Sun Valley is wholly owned
by Cargill and through Sun Valley's own branded chicken products, Cargill's
control of GM food from seed to supermarket shelf is complete.
Sun Valley is well known for its processed and coated chicken products, such
as Sun Valley's Garlic Butter Chicken Kiev, which it claims, is 'The Nations
favourite Kiev'. However, Sun Valley's biggest customer is McDonald's, the
world's largest and best-known food company, for whom Sun Valley produces
chicken McNuggets and sandwich patties. One third of Sun Valley's Balliol
plant in Wolverhampton is given over to producing food for McDonald's.
Despite McDonald's claims that they aim to go 'GM-free', when pressed on the
issue of GM animal feed, McDonald's is less keen, blaming feed suppliers for
the lack of non GM-feed. (1)
"Consumers don't want excuses, they want food free of GM contamination.
Other food retailers are already taking action. McDonald's has the same
opportunity," said Thomas.
The investigation into animal feed follows on from the launch of a major
campaign by Greenpeace to stop GMOs contaminating the food chain and the
environment through the 'back door' as animal feed. The 'True Feed campaign'
began with a national newspaper advertising campaign featuring chickens fed
on GM animal feed.
Greenpeace has also demonstrated internationally against US exports of GM
animal feed. Today (Wednesday) in Hamburg, Greenpeace volunteers positioned
themselves in the water in front of freighter Unison bringing in corn gluten
feed from the US. On Tuesday Greenpeace volunteers blocked a railroad from
Veracruz harbour in Mexico to prevent a train loaded with GE maize from
leaving the port. During the past week the organisation has also
demonstrated in the US and France against GM exports.
"Greenpeace is opposed to the pollution of our food chain and environment by
GM crops. GM animal feed is another step along the contamination trail. It's
time to stop the planting and export of these crops and insist that the
animals that provide our meat and dairy products, are reared on a GM-free
diet," said Thomas. [Ends]
Notes to Editors
Greenpeace briefing 'Smuggling GM in through the back door: A Greenpeace
Investigation into genetically modified animal feed' is available from the
Greenpeace Press office and on the Greenpeace web site.
A short animated film tracing the contamination trail from Monsanto to
McDonald's can be seen on Greenpeace Digital, Greenpeace's new web site on
(1) In a letter to Greenpeace 05.11.99, Mike Love, Director of
Communications for McDonalds wrote: "There are difficulties of segregation
within the animal feed supply chain industry-wide and therefore we currently
don't make a specification regarding GM ingredients in animal feed."
For further information please contact Greenpeace Press office on 0171 865
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