Friday, 24 August 2012

I just don't get it... (GMO reprised)

‘I just don’t get it,’ I said to Becky as we slung kettlebells around down by the river.
‘Huh?’ she said.  I think the grunt was in reference to my utterance (but you can never be sure when you're doing kettlebells).
‘Well,’ I said. How come the Co-op say on their website that they have banned GM foods yet their goat’s cheese says it was made using genetically modified pseudo-rennet?’
‘Huh?’ That was definitely in reference to me as she turned and frowned (though, then again, that’s a common facial expression during clean and press.
‘Yup,’ I said.
‘Did you ask them about it?’ she said.
‘I sure did,’ I said. And I had. And this chap, Richard Carroll, had emailed me back and said

"Dear Jane, 
Thanks for your email. We have banned Genetically Modified (GM) crops, ingredients or additives in Co-operative brand food products since 1999…

With regard to the goats' cheese you bought… although a GM rennet has been used, there is no actual GM in the final cheese..."

Hmm. Is it just me, or is that a bit disingenuous?  So they can claim the high ground cos there’s no GM actually left in the final product, even though it was used in the making thereof?  And look at that statement again – carefully.  They have banned GM in their own-brand products – ergo, not in all the products they stock.
Am I being too picky here?  I guess their statement is literally factually correct, but surely it goes against the spirit of the thing?  Google Co-operative and GM and the results make them sound like the saints of the marketplace. But it's not entirely true that they're white knights on gleaming white chargers, is it?  They're kinda a bit muddy.

So I emailed him back and he emailed me back again pointing out that they ‘go further than most retailers with the information we provide so I don’t feel this is disingenuous.’  And then (was he gritting his teeth? It’s always so hard to tell with emails) he said, ‘This information is provided with our customers’ interest in mind and we are not obliged to provide it.’
Yup, I hear you – you’re the white knights, right?    The knights who say, 'Er...
‘The product does not contain GM ingredients so labelling it as such would be incorrect. As previously explained, we have banned genetically modified crops, ingredients or additives in Co-operative band food products since 1999.’ 

Yes, yes, I heard you the first time.  But, y’know, I’m still frowning over this. 

As you probably know, I don’t like GM.  It may be totally safe for us to eat (I have absolutely no idea – I don’t think anyone really has any idea longterm – how can they?  But just bear in mind that people used to think smoking was good for people with asthma).  What does seem pretty clear to me is that it isn’t remotely safe for our environment.  But hey, it's our children and grandchildren who'll have to worry about that, right? :( 

I’m not a food fascist.  I figure everyone has the right to eat and drink exactly what they choose.  Sure, it saddens me when James drinks Coke and other fizzy drinks (and particularly if he drinks the ones that come stuffed with aspartame – cos, truly, they haven’t got a CLUE what that particular  baby does to your brain).  Sure I kinda wince when I see people ladle saturated fat into their bodies but hey…what can I do?  As far as James is concerned, all I can do is inform him and not keep the stuff in the house.  What he does when he’s out has to be his business.

But I do think food and drink should be clearly labelled so we can make informed choices.  Personally I’d like to see a clear label (not some tiny small print on the back of a label) saying if any GMO has been implicated in the making of the foodstuff.  But that ain’t gonna happen, is it?  Cos there are too many vested interests at stake. 

Sadly this is a spoof but...
It’s not just the Co-op of course – but I guess I expected a bit more from this particular operation, given they tout their ethics so much. 
Anyhow.  By the time I’d stopped discussing this with Becky, the class was almost over.
‘The world’s crazy,’ she said, shaking her head sadly.  'Crazy.' 

And we manoeuvred into Plank as the first drops of rain started falling.   


@MereRambling said...

Totally agree. As does the bloke next to me on the settee. Used to be that corporates begged to be seen as angelic, now they arrogantly shout "deal with it" as our foods & environments become increasingly poisoned for their profit.
One problem is that we are not shouting as loudly back a clear "pack it in in the first place".
I have had a running dig at Vimto for some time now over their decision to use acesulfame. I have the last remaining 6 cans in town stockpiled in the outhouse to savour. Son even suggests I put one on eBay for £50! Everywhere I go I get friends/family/bar staff pulling bottles out so I can read labels. It's not about being a pain in the butt, it's about doing our best to campaign for better. If we don't speak up, even to those close to us, our complacency undermines our principles & integrity. It starts with our cupboards. It grows speed with our many voices. And together we are bigger than one little email.
I do not allow aspartame in my home, and am honest & open with visitors as to why.
As far as this guy's patronising & somewhat facetious tone is concerned, there's only one message we all need to send loudly & clearly: we DON'T BUY IT!!!

Anonymous said...

Rennet is poison either way: GM or NGM. :o)

Exmoorjane said...

@MereRambling - No, we're not shouting loudly enough. People just aren't informed enough. Problem is, everyone wants cheap food (well, of course we do, it's darn tough out there) and so I guess we shut our eyes to a lot of what's going on under our noses. :(

@Everything - Milk is Murder, huh? :)

F said...

I don't worry so much about GM (pretty much everything we eat is GM... what's selective breeding of crops and domesticated animals, besides really slow GM?) but I do have a thing against all the artificial "food products" like aspartame and sucralose and olestra.