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GE concerns draw action at McDonald's shareholder meeting
May 27, 2000 @ 05:00:00 am
Washington, DC / FoE / - In a move aimed at protecting the public from the potential health and environmental effects of GE foods, Friends of the Earth attended the annual shareholder meeting of McDonalds today. A represe...

In a move aimed at protecting the public from the potential health and environmental effects of GE foods, Friends of the Earth attended the annual shareholder meeting of McDonalds today. A representative from the group spoke in favor of a shareholder resolution that calls on the company to eliminate genetically engineered ingredients from its products until long-term safety testing proves they are safe. The resolution, filed by FoE in partnership with other shareholder groups including the Adrian Dominican Sisters, also calls for an interim step of labeling products that contain genetically engineered ingredients.

"No one can say with certainty that genetically engineered food is safe to eat over the long-term, said Sarah Newport, coordinator of FoE's Safer Food, Safer Farms Campaign. "McDonalds has a responsibility to its shareholders. The company's reputation is at stake if it doesn't respond to American consumers who are increasingly concerned about the risks posed by GE food."

The issue of genetically engineered food is not new to McDonalds. A Consumer Reports magazine article last September found that McDonalds' veggie burgers tested positive for genetically engineered soy content. Recent newspaper articles have confirmed that McDonalds has asked its major potato supplier in the U.S. to grow non-genetically engineered potatoes for its famous French fries, and McDonalds Europe has pledged to actively work with its suppliers to find non-GE sources of ingredients.

"While we applaud McDonalds' efforts to keep their fries GE-free, there is still concern. They have not committed to keep genetically engineered milk out of milkshakes, soy out of burgers, or corn sweetener out of soft drinks." said Newport. "If McDonalds can steer clear of GE foods in Europe, they can do it here at home. American customers aren't getting the same treatment as European customers when it comes to food safety."

Genetic engineering has received more shareholder attention faster than any other topic in the history of corporate social responsibility. This year 24 food and life sciences companies received shareholder resolutions on the issue of genetically engineered food. Other food companies and supermarkets including Whole Foods, Gerber, Heinz, Seagram's and Frito-Lay have all taken steps to remove GE ingredients from their product lines.

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