- The Guardian, Wednesday 22 December 1999 01.45 GMT
Caterers have delivered Monsanto the final insult by banning genetically modified food from the GM giant’s own staff canteen “in response to concern raised by our customers.”
Anti-GM campaigners Friends of the Earth gleefully welcomed the vote of “no confidence” in the new technology while Monsanto, already reeling from worldwide financial fears for its GM future, complained that the decision removed choice for its employees.
The canteen at Monsanto’s main offices in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, is run by an outside contractor Sutcliffe Catering, part of Granada Food Services. In a statement to customers, Mike Batchelor, quality systems manager of Granada , said it was working “to remove, as far as is practicable, GM soya and maize from all food products served in our restaurant.”
It would continue to sell products such as confectionary that were packaged and labelled by manufacturers as having GM ingredients, “where it is appropriate”. Mr Batchelor added the step had been taken “to ensure you, the customer, can feel confident in the food we serve”.
Adrian Bebb, food campaigner for FoE, said: “The public has made its concerns about GM ingredients very clear. Now it appears that even Monsanto’s own catering firm has no confidence in this new technology.” He said caterers and manufacturers must go further to ensure they did not sell meat and dairy products from animals raised on GM animal feed.
Tony Combes, director of corporate affairs for Monsanto in Britain, denied any suggestion the decision was embarrassing. Granada had a blanket policy. “This has nothing to do with the fact that they are running Monsanto’s canteen. You go to any outside catering company and you will see the same thing.”
At Monsanto’s Cambridge offices, the canteen was run in-house and there was no ban on GM food.
“We believe in choice. At our Cambridge restaurant the notice says some products “may contain GMOs” because our staff are happy to eat foods sprayed with fewer chemicals.”