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UK GM Report: Vested Interests Miss the Point

Press release: Brussels—“Food & Water Europe dismissed today’s United Kingdom report calling for more GM trials in the UK as “a chronically flawed effort from blinkered vested interests. The UK’s pro-GM government asked a group of GM scientists and lobbyists what we should do about GM food and crops. Since many of the scientists involved make money from GM, it’s no surprise they want more of it. But this situation begs the question: shouldn’t those advising the Government on GM be a bit more independent, or at least a little more distant from the profits?

“The report aims for a shift to U.S.-style regulation based on “substantial equivalence,” rather than the EU’s clear case-by-case precautionary evaluation of each GMO in turn. This attempt to portray GMOs as “just the same” also undermines the very labels that help EU consumers find, and roundly reject, GM products on supermarket shelves.

“The biggest problem with the report is that it misses the point—if industrial food production was going to end hunger, it would have done so by now. We need a much smarter approach to feeding ourselves, with more respect for what farmers do, a sentiment that was reflected in a report called Wake Up Before It’s Too Late, which the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development issued last year.

Statement from Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter

Brussels—“Food & Water Europe dismissed today’s United Kingdom report calling for more GM trials in the UK as “a chronically flawed effort from blinkered vested interests. The UK’s pro-GM government asked a group of GM scientists and lobbyists what we should do about GM food and crops. Since many of the scientists involved make money from GM, it’s no surprise they want more of it. But this situation begs the question: shouldn’t those advising the Government on GM be a bit more independent, or at least a little more distant from the profits?

“The report  aims for a shift to U.S.-style regulation based on “substantial equivalence,” rather than the EU’s clear case-by-case precautionary evaluation of each GMO in turn. This attempt to portray GMOs as “just the same” also undermines the very labels that help EU consumers find, and roundly reject, GM products on supermarket shelves.

“The biggest problem with the report is that it misses the point—if industrial food production was going to end hunger, it would have done so by now. We need a much smarter approach to feeding ourselves, with more respect for what farmers do, a sentiment that was reflected in a report called Wake Up Before It’s Too Late, which the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development issued last year.

“Today’s report prepared for the UK Government, and some of the equally flawed coverage of it, attempts yet again to claim that there is something wrong with EU GM regulation because it doesn’t give biotech industry what they want. They also try to say they ‘know’ GMOs are perfectly safe for people, animals and the environment, but to do this they simply dismiss the evidence that doesn’t fit. From the rise of superweeds and superbugs to the corporate diplomacy of the “biotech ambassadors” we helped to expose, there is plenty of evidence of harm there if you open your eyes.

“Sadly, it’s rather difficult to see what exactly the report proposes. Does it suggest that the UK leaves the EU in order to run more trials for GM products no one wants to eat? Are farmers really prepared to leave the Single Market and lose their CAP subsidies in the process to get more GM? It’s all rather hard to pin down if you know anything at all about GM agriculture or the EU.

“Since the Prime Minister commissioned today’s report, we’re looking forward to the complementary edition produced by a panel of GM skeptics. I’m not holding my breath.”

 Contact: Eve Mitchell, Food & Water Europe, + 44 (0) 1381 610 740, [email protected]