- DECATUR, Alabama - Two grandmothers
will go to court today to defend their right to let consumers know that
they are eating risky genetically engineered (GE) food. Gerry Coffey, 62,
and Jean Tune, 79, were arrested by local police after they refused to
leave the parking area of a Kroger supermarket where they were petitioning
and handing out information to shoppers about the risks of genetically
engineered food. The women are a part of a national supermarket campaign,
led by the GE-Free Markets Coalition and Greenpeace, to demand that grocery
store chains eliminate the use of genetically engineered food in store
- "I saw nothing wrong with telling Kroger's shoppers
that 60% of the processed food they buy contains genetically engineered
ingredients," said Gerry Coffey. "I had no idea Kroger management
would have us arrested for telling the truth about their food. "
- Greg Reeves, a local Decatur attorney, will defend the
grandmothers, pro bono. "The people of Alabama should be able to speak
directly to shoppers about genetically engineered food without fear of
arrest," said Reeves.
- Genetically engineered food is on our supermarket shelves
with no warning to consumers. GE food is created when foreign genes from
bacteria, viruses, plants and animals are inserted into common food crops
like corn, soy, canola and cotton to make them resistant to herbicides
or pests. GE food can cause novel food toxins, food allergies, increased
toxic pesticide use and environmental pollution. The Food and Drug Administration
does not require long term health or environmental safety testing of genetic
experiments. Furthermore, there is no warning to consumers that they are
eating these gene-altered foods.
- "It's a sad day when grandmothers are arrested for
letting people know the truth about genetically engineered food on their
supermarket shelves," said Jeanne Merrill, Campaigner with the Greenpeace
Genetic Engineering Campaign. "We should be arresting the biotech
company executives that are contaminating our food, not peaceful grandmothers."
- In March 2002, Greenpeace and the GE-Free Markets Coalition
launched a campaign to demand that supermarkets, like Kroger's, stop their
use of GE food in store brand products. Supermarket chains like Whole Foods,
Wild Oats and most recently, Trader Joe's, have pledged not to use GE food
ingredients in their own brand products. An ABC poll conducted last year
found the 93% of Americans want labeling of genetically engineered food
and over 50% of those people would avoid GE food if given the option.
- "They need to know that consumers in Europe refuse
to be guinea pigs in this genetic experiment," said Gerry Coffey.
"That is not so here at home in the land of the free and the home
of the brave. Blind to the way they are being misused, most Americans are
being lead down the yellow brick road by being denied their basic right
to know about what's in their food."
- Gerry Coffey is a health educator and her family farms
cotton. Jean Tune recently started a community-supported, organic farm.
Both women are hoping to get the support of mothers and concerned others
on this important issue.