Safeway Shareholder Meeting
May 25, 2006

Statement Re: Resolution Labeling Genetically Engineered Products

Mr. Chair, Members of the Board and Shareholders,

I am Corinne Florek, an Adrian Dominican Sister, representing the Adrian Dominican Sisters, Bon Secours Health System, the United Methodist Church General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, and the Benedictines of Mt. St. Scholastica, all proponents of Proposal 7, to Label Genetically Engineered Food.

In submitting this proposal, we are advocating for the consumers’ right to know and for protection of the company from potential losses.

There is a long history of labeling foods in the United States. Labeling is commonplace.

  • Labeling Informs consumers concerned about allergens in the food they eat
  • Labeling reduces liability
  • Labeling protects consumers’ right to know

In March of this year, 132 countries agreed to rules on the international trade in products containing genetically engineered organisms. Those rules include labeling.

Millions of people have allergies to certain foods. Recent studies indicate that genetic engineering may increase the risk that they will accidentally consume foods that contain allergens.

The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry reported late in 2005 on an Australian study of transgenic peas, which showed that:

  • we can no longer be sure that genetic engineering between closely related organisms is safe;
  • non-allergenic plants can form allergenic hybrids when genetically modified;
  • the genetic engineering process itself, not merely the transferred proteins, can result in an allergic reaction.

Genetically engineered foods currently on the market have NOT been screened for allergens as rigorously as the Australian pea study. Thus, only labeling will allow for post-marketing surveillance to verify pre-market screening for unanticipated adverse health consequences from the consumption of GE food.

Persons with high food sensitivity depend on labeling to help avoid foods that may cause allergic reactions. In the Statement of Opposition, Safeway notes that it continues to expand the Safeway Select Organic brand, as an alternative to genetically engineered food. However, Safeway’s solution forces the food sensitive consumers to choose more costly organic products to avoid potential allergens of GE-food. This is severely limiting for the food sensitive person on a fixed budget.

Labeling GE foods is the best protection Safeway has against potential liability claims from a customer who has an allergic reaction to a genetically modified ingredient in Safeway’s products.

Only labeling will fully inform consumers and protect our company.

Vote for improved shareholder value. Vote for the proposal 7 to Label Genetically Engineered Products.