Associated Press | December 21, 1999 | By CAROLINE BYRNE, Associated Press Writer
LONDON - Genetically modified food has been banned from the staff cafeteria at Monsanto Co.'s UK headquarters by the company's own caterer, GM food giant Monsanto confirmed Tuesday.
Granada Food Services, whose customers include Monsanto's High Wycombe office near London, recently told clients it would not supply food containing GM soya and GM maize due to customer concerns.
In a statement to clients, Granada said the move was designed "to ensure that you, the customer, can feel confident in the food we serve."
Genetic engineering involves splicing a single gene from one organism to another. GM products, including Monsanto's genetically engineered corn, have recently met with safety concerns in parts of Europe and Asia.
In October, the European Union adopted new marketing rules requiring companies to label food as genetically modified if more than one percent of the product contains GM organisms. Granada's statement said the ban also brings the company into compliance with the new regulations.
Monsanto played down the staff cafeteria policy, and denied it was an embarrassment to have a GM food ban at the head office of a company manufacturing GM crop seeds.
"We believe in choice. At our Cambridge restaurant the notice says some products may contain genetically modified organisms because our staff are happy to eat foods sprayed with fewer chemicals," said Tony Combes, Monsanto's director of corporate affairs.
Combes also pointed out that Granada's GM policy was a blanket ban covering all of its customers and did not target Monsanto specifically.
"It has nothing to do with us really," said Combes.
Opponents of GM food said they believe the ban showed a lack of confidence in Monsanto, however.
"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," said Adrian Bebb, food campaigner at Friends of the Earth.
Copyright 1999 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.