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Wednesday, January 08, 2003


By Scott Parrott DAILY Staff Writer

Two grandmothers arrested outside a Decatur supermarket said they planned
to collect petition signatures and distribute leaflets for their cause but
never expected to face trespass charges.

Decatur police arrested Gerry Coffey, 62, and Jean Tune, 79, Saturday in
the Kroger parking lot on Beltline Road Southwest after the women refused
to leave the property.

"I thought I was performing a good deed for the public," said Coffey, of
Decatur. "I didn't realize how serious it was until we were in the back of
the police car and the officer called in and said, 'I'm bringing in two
Caucasian females, one born in 1923.' "

Police charged Coffey and Tune with misdemeanor third-degree trespassing.
They released the women later Saturday on recognizance. Each woman said it
was her first time to be arrested.

The two advocates for natural foods could now face fines. "I believe in
this so strongly that I stifled my inhibitions and did it," Coffey said of
her petitioning.

In an e-mail to Kroger, Coffey identified herself as health educator,
councilor and public relations officer of Mothers and Concerned Others,
and a member of Vegetarian Union of North America and International
Vegetarian Union.

The women said they and three other members of Mothers and Concerned
Others were trying to raise consumer awareness of genetically engineered
and modified foods. These are "Frankenstein foods," according to a press
release to local media.

Many products on most supermarket shelves include genetically engineered
food. The food is modified to increase nutritional quality, or boost crop
yields by making it drought and pest resistant. Opponents, such as Coffey
and Tune, say the food could cause allergic reactions in humans or pollute
the environment by cross-pollinating with natural varieties.

Coffey and Tune, who identifies herself as an environmentalist, said they
were helping Greenpeace during a national petition drive, the Supermarket
Campaign Week of Action.

They hope to get supermarket chains to remove genetically engineered
ingredients from store-br and products and ultimately the entire chain.
They would also like the federal government to require labeling on such
food products.

"I feel like I grew up in the best of worlds, and my grandchildren are
growing up in the worst of worlds. I'm tired of taxpayers being totally
ignored," said Tune, of Priceville.

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posted by Vetzine


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