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Kraft targeted in anti-biotech food campaign

Kraft targeted in anti-biotech food campaign
CHICAGO - A coalition of green health-policy groups this week called on Kraft Foods Inc., the largest North American food maker, to remove genetically altered ingredients from several of its popular products, including Tombstone pizzas and Stove Top stuffing.
The Washington-based coalition, called Genetically Engineered Food Alert, said an independent laboratory had tested several Kraft products and found they contained genetically altered corn or soybeans. The U.S. government has approved the use of the ingredients, but the coalition said they have not been adequately tested to determine their safety. GE Food Alert is the same group whose findings in 2000 led to the recall of Kraft taco shells containing StarLink, a gene-spliced corn not approved for human consumption. The organization is also calling for mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, which the government does not currently require. Biotech foods have come under increased scrutiny by critics, particularly in light of recent global health concerns sparked by mad cow disease and foot-and-mouth disease. Kraft, citing approval from a wide range of regulatory bodies, says its products are safe. \"There is a strong global consensus among government, scientific and medical experts about the safety of biotech foods,\" said Kraft spokesman Michael Mudd. \"We have strong confidence in the process by which that consensus was reached.\" Kraft shares were 8 cents lower at $37.02 in Wednesday afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. POPULAR PRODUCTS HAVE GMOS Testing positive for gene-spliced corn were Kraft\'s Taco Bell taco shells, Lunchables lunch kits, Tombstone pizzas, Post Blueberry Morning cereal, Stove Top stuffing and the french onion variety of SnackWell\'s brand crackers, a GE Alert representative said at a news conference in Chicago. Kraft\'s Boca Burger brand vegetarian burgers were found to include GMO soy. \"It\'s time for Kraft to finally make public health a priority,\" said Kate Madigan of the Illinois chapter of State Public Interest Research Groups, which is a founding member of GE Food Alert. \"We are calling on Kraft to remove genetically engineered ingredients from these and all of their products.\" GE Food Alert, whose other founding members include the Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth and the Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy, said it had garnered help from partner organizations and local health advocates in 170 cities around the country to help launch its campaign against Kraft this week. In September 2000, GE Food Alert disclosed research that led to a national recall of Kraft\'s Taco Bell taco shells that had been manufactured with StarLink corn, a genetically altered variety made by Aventis SA. The research led to a government investigation. The group has pressured other food makers, including Campbell Soup Co., to stop using GMO ingredients. Campbell maintains its foods are safe. \"We have always encouraged development in food science and technology that would improve the safety, quality, availability and wholesomeness of food and food ingredients,\" said John Faulkner, a spokesman for Camden, New Jersey-based Campbell. Story by Deborah Cohen REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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