Novartis have announced that they have withdrawn the "Aviva" food range of products from sale in the UK. Novartis, which produces genetically modified seeds, as well as medical products, launched the range of products in November 1999 with a 20 million pound marketing campaign.

Novartis claimed that the "Aviva" functional foods offered health benefits to consumers including benefits for bones, heart and digestion. Products in the range included cereal bars, biscuits, a hot chocolate drink and a juice drink.

Marcus Williamson of, states :

"Novartis made several mistakes in launching the Aviva range, at a time when the public is especially conscious of the ingredients used in food.

Several Aviva products contained soya, which consumers are avoiding because of the GM connection, and Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, which has according to the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) 92 possible side effects, including death.

Furthermore, the ingredients were not comprehensively labelled, so that the consumer could not tell if the vegetable oil and vegetable fat being used were from a GM suspect source."

In an e-mail received at the offices, Yvan Deurbroeck of Novartis Switzerland, states :

"We are currently reviewing the situation so that we can come back with a more powerful consumer proposal in the future."

Marcus Williamson responds :

"It is to be hoped that the next offerings from Novartis will not contain GM suspect ingredients, will not contain the artificial sweetener Aspartame or any "E" numbers and that their ingredients will be comprehensively labelled.

If functional foods are to have a future in the UK, they will need to fit with the demands of the health conscious consumer for really healthy food, without the additives and with labelling that shows the real origin of the ingredients used.

In fact, if Novartis is serious about launching products for consumer health, it should use all organic ingredients."


Marcus Williamson
Genetically Modified Food - UK and World News
E-mail :

Yvan Deurbroeck
Novartis Switzerland
E-mail :


Aviva was launched in November 1999 with a 20 million pound campaign run by Grey (GCI) UK. Aviva products were sold in UK supermarkets, such as Sainsbury's.

Novartis announced in August 2000 that it was removing genetically modified ingredients from all its food products.

Aspartame is made with genetically modified bacteria, according to this article :

For information about the 92 side effects of Aspartame use, see :