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Nestle Sued over GM Product

The controversy over genetically modified foods is set to heat up in China due to a lawsuit filed in Shanghai against Nestle and a local supermarket.

A local court has agreed to hear the suit filed against Shanghai Nestle Co. and Shanghai Lianjia Supermarket Co. for producing and selling genetically modified food without informing customers.

Zhu yanling is asking the court to order Nestle to label its Nesquik brand instant chocolate drink as a GM food and is also seeking 13.6 yuan (US$1.64) in compensation -- twice the amount she spent on the drink.

The court has not set a trial date yet.

While genetically modified foods have been adopted widely around the world, they are still very controversial.

Some scientists worry about the long-term effects of GM foods on the human body and fear modified crops will cross-pollinate with natural varieties. Proponents of GM foods argue they could solve the world's hunger problem by producing crops that are resistant to drought and pests.

Zhu, 32, bought a package of Nesquik at the supermarket on March 27. Later, she learned from the Internet and newspapers that the product contains genetically modified ingredients.

Wu dong, Zhu's attorney, said Nestle has promised that its products sold in Europe don't contain any GM ingredients, but it hasn't made the same promise in China.
"We are fighting for the right to be informed whether the food is genetically modified or not. The customers should have the right to select what kind of food they like," he added.

Labelling of GM foods is a controversial subject around the world. While Europe has passed strong laws requiring GM foods to be clearly labelled, in countries like Canada and the United States, however, labelling laws are strictly voluntary, despite calls from many consumers for mandatory regulations.

Last December, China's Ministry of Agriculture published a list of products that must be labelled as genetically modified, but it didn't include Nesquik.

He tong of Nestle (China) Ltd said the company is confident it will win the case, but she refused to say weather Nesquik contains genetically modified ingredients.

(eastday.com July 29, 2003)

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