Consumers are being warned that chili beans imported from the US under the Stagg's name may give them more than the taste of 'the old west' promised in advertising, and could include types of Genetically Engineered corn that people may want to avoid.
A TV campaign for Stagg's highlights ingredients going into it's chili bean range, but many consumers would be surprised to find GE corn on the ingredient lists of one variant, or to know that the meat used could be from animals raised on GE-feed, or even from clones.
This is entirely legal under current food legislation, as scores of GE crops have been given official approval to be imported into New Zealand, and US rules on farming have allowed cloned animals to start entering the food chain, without monitoring or labelling.
But consumers are left in the dark about the specific type of GE crop, and the specific risks associated with it. Researchers have found organ damage and reduced fertility in animals after feeding trials using GE crops. Some types have even been banned by countries.
"It is not known which type of GE corn is being used, and there is no official monitoring to require it be listed on the label," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.
New Zealand consumers already have a good choice of trusted New Zealand brands with a history of having a clear GE-free policy for their ingredients. These companies have kept faith with customers by avoiding GE ingredients, and include trusted household names Watties, Craig's and Pak N Save's Pam's.
A consumer test of these products was recently featured on TVNZ's Target programme, and they are a clear choice for kiwi's wanting to avoid GE ingredients.
Jon Carapiet 0210507681