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McDonald's, Gerber say no to GMO apple

Posted Nov. 7, 2013 / Posted by: Adam Russell

Market rejection of GMOs grows in wake of labeling fights

WASHINGTON, DC - In letters to Friends of the Earth, the world’s largest restaurant chain McDonald’s, and leading baby food manufacturer Gerber have confirmed they do not plan to sell or use the Arctic® apple, the first genetically engineered apple that has an application pending before the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“McDonald’s and Gerber are wise to distance themselves from the Arctic® apple. They understand their customers, particularly parents, are leery of unlabeled, poorly studied genetically engineered foods,” said Lisa Archer, director of the Food & Technology Program at Friends of the Earth. “This is further proof that the market is rejecting GMOs.”

Commenting on the possible loss of Washington State’s GMO labeling initiative, Archer said: “Companies invested in profits from GMOs might have bought Washington’s election, but they can’t stop the market from rejecting their products.”

In a letter dated Oct. 31, 2013, Gerber confirmed its policy to avoid genetically modified organisms in fruit and vegetable purees for babies, and said it has no plans to use the Arctic® apple. Gerber is owned by Nestle, which sells many processed foods containing GMOs, and has spent over $2 million fighting GMO labeling voter initiatives in Washington and California. 

McDonald’s, which sells apple slices and is expanding its fruit and vegetable menu offerings, confirmed in a letter dated Nov. 1, 2013, that it also has no plans to use Arctic® apples. The apples are genetically engineered using a controversial new method  that turns off the apple’s natural browning mechanism.

These food companies join major apple growing associations, including USApple and the Northwest Horticultural Council (representing Washington apple growers who grow more than 60 percent of U.S. apples), that have stated opposition to this GMO apple.

The statements provide further evidence of growing market rejection of new genetically engineered foods that are in the pipeline for approval. 

Nearly 5,000 supermarkets – including Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Aldi – have said they won’t sell genetically engineered salmon. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering approval of the AquAdvantage® salmon that is engineered with the DNA of an Ocean Pout to grow twice as fast. 

Three quarters of people recently surveyed by the New York Times said they would not eat genetically engineered fish. 

The Arctic® apple and AquAdvantage® salmon are among many new genetically engineered foods in the pipeline for approval, including a potato and commodity crops (corn and soy) engineered to withstand more powerful pesticides. Dozens of genetically engineered fish and other animals including pigs, cows and chickens are also in development stages.

“New unlabeled, risky GMOs could enter the produce aisles and meat counters at our grocery stores in the near future. That’s why it’s so important to win labeling now, and put in place rigorous health and safety standards for genetically engineered foods,” Archer said. “Until then, we’ll keep ramping up the pressure for the market to listen to the growing public rejection of GMOs.”  

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Letters to McDonald’s and Gerber signed by of environmental, consumer, parent’s and food safety groups and letters from McDonald’s and Gerber here: www.nogmoapples.org

List of grocery stores committed to not sell GMO salmon or seafood: www.gefreeseafood.org

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