Britain's Food Standards Agency In New GM Food Bias Row
"Helen Wallace, director of campaign
group GeneWatch UK, has resigned from a Food Standards Agency steering
group tasked with shaping and managing a public dialogue on food and the use of GM
technology. Dr Wallace said evidence unearthed through Freedom of Information
requests had convinced her that the 'FSA process was set up from the outset to provide
free 'reputation management' to the GM industry at taxpayers expense'. In a resignation
letter she said: 'The FSA appears to [be]
actively engaged in trying to use the so-called dialogue to implement the industrys
PR strategy: focusing on a non-existent positive
future where new GM crops will feed the world, whilst lobbying to end the
segregation of GM and non-GM food and feed entering Britain and Europe, and opposing the
labelling of meat and dairy products produced using GM feed.' The FSA set up the steering
group to organise a public dialogue on the use of genetic modification."
FSA accused of helping GM industry
Farmer's Weekly Online, 28 May 2010
29 May 2010
Three items below on latest GM row involving Britain's Food Standards Agency (FSA), this time during the first month of Britain's new Conservative-led coalition government:
For More Information On The Conservative Party's Relationship With Food Chain Lobbyists Visit
A Pre-Election Warning
Are You Ready For A GM 'Lobbygate'
Under The Next Parliament?
Are The Food And Drink Federation (FDF)?
And What Is Their Interest In GM Food And The Conservative Party?
Mixed GM Messages From The Tories Before The Election
But Where Will They Stand On The Issue After Polling Day?
"I have been warning for some time
is the next scandal to hit British politics."
David Cameron, shortly before becoming British Prime Minister
London Times, 22 March 2010
Friday 28 May 2010 06:27The governments food safety watchdog has been accused of spending £500,000 on a PR exercise on behalf of the GM crop industry.
Helen Wallace, director of campaign group GeneWatch UK, has resigned from a Food Standards Agency steering group tasked with shaping and managing a public dialogue on food and the use of GM technology.
Dr Wallace said evidence unearthed through Freedom of Information requests had convinced her that the FSA process was set up from the outset to provide free reputation management to the GM industry at taxpayers expense.
In a resignation letter she said: The FSA appears to actively engaged in trying to use the so-called dialogue to implement the industrys PR strategy: focusing on a non-existent positive future where new GM crops will feed the world, whilst lobbying to end the segregation of GM and non-GM food and feed entering Britain and Europe, and opposing the labelling of meat and dairy products produced using GM feed.
The FSA set up the steering group to organise a public dialogue on the use of genetic modification.
It wants to find ways to discuss with members of the public their understanding of GM in food and what they think are its potential risks and benefits.
The dialogue will also allow the FSA to identify what information people need and want in order to make confident, informed choices about the food they eat.
Dr Julian Little, chair of the pro-GM Agricultural Biotechnology Council accused GeneWatch of using its withdrawal as a PR stunt to scaremonger and promote unfounded myths.
Food security is a global issue and one that the UK cannot turn its back on. We need to increase food production in a sustainable way and we should all be working together to find the best solutions, rather than have tit-for-tat arguments that are not addressing the pressing public policy challenges we face.
"We stand by the need for GM to be presented as an option within the wider context of food security as part of the solution to a growing population.
"With that in mind, we look forward to the day when consumers are able to vote with their wallets on this subject and when farmers are able to access the tools they need to produce high quality affordable food in the face of climate change and resource depletion.
B. GMWatch - FSA set to waste half a million plus on PR
exercise for GM industry
Thursday, 27 May 2010 09:01
1.Food Standards Agency set to waste more than half a million on PR
exercise for GM industry
2.Helen Wallace's resignation letter
NOTE: This would be outrageous at any time but is especially so at a time of austerity when UK Government cuts look set to impact schools and other vital public services. People in the UK should contact their MPs and ministers to protest.
1. Food Standards Agency set to waste more than half a million on PR exercise for GM industry
GeneWatch UK Press Release, 27 May 2010
Last night, GeneWatch UK's Director Dr Helen Wallace, resigned from the Steering Group for the Food Standards Agency's GM dialogue (1,2). The Steering Group meets today to agree a GBP450,000 bid and GBP50,000 evaluation for its public dialogue on GM crops and food. Additional money will be spent on paying the civil servants and consultants who will be managing the exercise.
The budget was approved by the former Government and is overseen by the FSA, which is chaired by former Labour agriculture minister Jeff Rooker, who will be speaking at the FSA meeting today.
Freedom of Information requests and internal documents show that the dialogue is an integral part of the GM industry's PR strategy. This involves claiming non-existent future benefits ('GM will feed the world') whilst portraying step-by-step contamination of GM-free shipments into Britain and Europe as inevitable and lobbying to weaken regulation.
Dr Wallace said: "Taxpayers will be shocked that a former minister is blowing public money on a PR exercise on behalf of GM companies".
The US company Monsanto controls 95% of the market for GM seeds. Dow (US), DuPont (US), Syngenta (Switzerland), BASF (Germany) and Bayer (Germany) are the other companies involved.
For further information contact:
Dr Helen Wallace. Office: 01298-24300; Mobile: 07903-311584.
(1) Dr Wallace's resignation letter is available in full on: http://www.genewatch.org/uploads/f03c6d66a9b354535738483c1c3d49e4/resignation.doc
(2) The FSA's description of the GM dialogue is on: http://www.food.gov.uk/gmfoods/gm/gmdialogue/
2. Helen Wallace's resignation letter
To: John Curtice, Chair, Steering Group, Food Standards Agency GM Dialogue
From: Helen Wallace, Director, GeneWatch UK
CC: Steering Group members, FSA, ScienceWise, DEFRA, BIS, DoH, ERAD (Scotland), DARDNI, Rural Affairs (Wales)
26 May 2010
I am resigning from membership of the Steering Group for the GM dialogue with immediate effect. I hope you understand when you read the contents of this letter why I am also making this public.
I joined the Group with some scepticism and it has now become clear to me that the process that the FSA has in mind is nothing more than a PR exercise on behalf of the GM industry. In my view, this would be a significant waste of £500,000 of taxpayers money.
Freedom of Information requests that have been passed to me show that the FSA met with the industry group the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC) on 21st September 2009 to discuss a GM public engagement programme. On 1st October 2009, the ABC advised the FSA abc welcomes the opportunity to provide suggestions on the individuals and groups that would add value to the FSA GM engagement Steering Group. We support this activity and understand the importance of this initiative; however we believe GM must be presented as an option within the wider context of food security as part of a solution to feeding a growing population. It is important that when consumers are thinking about GM, they are considering the future as much as the present. The industry also suggested edits to a draft FSA report to the Food Strategy Task Force, which claims that lack of demand and rising costs will drive out non-GM feed supplies and that GM and non-GM feed should no longer be segregated. In a subsequent report, DEFRA and the FSA support the industry's line that 'zero tolerance' of unapproved GM crops in the EU threatens food supplies.
These industry claims are reflected in the background materials provided to the Steering Group by the FSA, which state that "current problems with the supply of non-GM soya mean that over the next 12 months retailers and food manufacturers will need to consider whether they can sustain their current GM-Free stance" and that: "The Government has recommended that discussions take place in the wider context of global food supply to take account of the long term security of global food production and changing food prices".
The FSA has persistently resisted attempts to make the role of GM in feeding the world a subject for debate, instead arguing that this merely provides a 'context' for the dialogue. Its policy note which took six months to produce - does not suggest the public should be in any way consulted about plans to allow the contamination of feed shipments with unauthorised GM, or about the lack of labelling for meat or dairy products derived from animals fed on GM feed.
The same industry PR strategy is being actively implemented by Ipsos-MORI, which states on page 89 of its bid to run the dialogue that the Ipsos Mori Reputation Centre has been working with a multi-national Agro-chemical and seed company and its advertising agency since 2009 to develop concepts which link agribusiness with important global issues (such as climate change, water scarcity, deforestation etc) and position the company as a positive force. On page 17 of its bid, Ipsos-MORI warns that campaign organisations could try and hijack the [dialogue] process to ensure GM food does not get a chance to be reintroduced into the UK. The danger is that anti-GM campaigning could take place in the absence of any defence except from industry who will struggle to be credible. This seems a shockingly one-sided view for a company bidding to run a dialogue to take: although not surprising from one running a reputation management exercise on behalf of the GM industry.
In reality, there is no shortage of GM-free feed supplies , although the US company Monsanto is reported to be attempting to restricting the access of Brasilian farmers to conventional (non-GM) soybean seeds. Further, there is no realistic prospect of production of drought-tolerant, salt-tolerant, or nitrogen-fixing GM crops, which were first promised by the US Office of Technology Assessment in 1981, when the US Government was encouraged to begin subsidising GM crop research. ,
The US company Monsanto still controls 95% of the GM seed market and its main products are GM maize and soya engineered to be resistant to its herbicide RoundUp. The other GM companies - Dow, DuPont, BASF, Syngenta and Bayer - have adopted the same strategy. Herbicide-tolerant superweeds are now spreading across the US : and Monsantos share price is plummeting. Pesticide-resistance is also developing to GM pesticide-resistant crops. This is why the list of applications provided by the FSA in its (belated) policy document consists almost exclusively of GM crops stacked with multiple herbicide-resistant traits. These are the crops that the companies wish to ship into Europe without any prior approvals process.
Far from alleviating hunger, expensive patented GM seeds packaged with own-brand herbicides would lock poor farmers into a cycle of poverty in which they become increasingly dependent on multi-national seed companies. Further, Monsanto and other companies have been actively lobbying for US government subsidies for industrial-scale biofuels , which now prop up the US market for GM crops and are thought to be one factor in the 2008 spike in food prices that pushed millions into poverty.
I wish to reassure you that I am not in any way questioning your independence as Chair and I appreciate that some changes have been made in response to concerns that I have raised in meetings. However, I remain convinced that the FSA process was set up from the outset to provide free reputation management to the GM industry at taxpayers expense. The FSA appears to actively engaged in trying to use the so-called dialogue to implement the industrys PR strategy: focusing on a non-existent positive future where new GM crops will feed the world, whilst lobbying to end the segregation of GM and non-GM food and feed entering Britain and Europe, and opposing the labelling of meat and dairy products produced using GM feed.
This is not a process that I am prepared to support.
Dr Helen Wallace
3. Macedo, D. Farmers complain that Monsanto restricts access to conventional soybean seeds. Agência Brasil 18th May 2010.
5. Bioscience for Life? GeneWatch UK. May 2010. http://www.genewatch.org/uploads/f03c6d66a9b354535738483c1c3d49e4/Bioscience_for_life.pdf
7. http://www.tradershuddle.com/2010052523011/Stocks/Monsanto-Year-Lows.html .
8. Biggies from agribusiness join new biofuels lobbying group. 25th July 2008. http://www.livemint.com/2008/07/25130050/Biggies-from-agribusiness-join.html
C. GMWatch - Angry about FSA bias in public "dialogue"?
1.Angry about FSA bias in public "dialogue"?
2.What to do if you contact the FSA
NOTE: As Eve makes clear (item 1), the most important thing to do to express your concern at the behaviour of the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) is to contact your elected representatives at a national level, eg your Member of Parliament. Item 2 offers advice on how best to have an impact if you decide to also contact the FSA.
1.Angry about FSA bias in public "dialogue"? TAKE ACTION!
From: Eve Mitchell, Coordinator - GM Freeze <eveATgmfreeze.org>
Date: 28 May 2010 13:05
Subject: angry about FSA bias in public "dialogue"?
Several people have written to me today expressing anger about the FSA story from yesterday (Dr Wallace resigning from the Steering Group of the FSA "dialogue" on the grounds it is a pro-GM PR exercise at taxpayers' expense - see http://www.gmfreeze.org/page.asp?id=428&iType=
Since a number of you asked if it would be a be a good idea to write to the FSA, we decided to let you all know the best thing to do.
Writing to the FSA is unlikely to have any impact.
However, it would be very useful to write to politicians about the way the project is being handled and the waste of taxpayers' money at a time when cuts are being made elsewhere.
If urgent action is taken it may be possible to stop any contractual developments being locked in, so please act soon.
So, please write to your MP, MSP, MLA or MA (you can find them at www.writetothem.com) and:
- object strongly to the use of taxpayers' money to conduct a pro-GM PR exercise to try (again) to convince people to like GM foo and crops.
- ask your politician to formally ask Ministers and the FSA to explain what is happening and how the cost is justified
- copy or send a link to Dr Wallace's resignation letter (see http://www.genewatch.org/uploads/f03c6d66a9b354535738483c1c3d49e4/resignation.doc
- you could also refer to the other attention the issue has received:
GM Freeze press release at link above,
Story by the Ecologist http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/493786/fsa_accused_of_running_pr_exercise_for_gm_industry.html
Soil Association letter to FSA chief at http://www.soilassociation.org/News/NewsItem/tabid/91/smid/463/ArticleID/395/reftab/57/t/Helen-Wallace-resigns-from-FSA-s-steering-group-on-GM/Default.aspx
**It would be very helpful when doing this to send a copy to the FSA (so they know it is happening)
http://www.food.gov.uk/aboutus/contactus/ and to the newspaper of your choice (as how they report the "dialogue" as/if it proceeds will be important).**
I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Feel free to send this action on to others.
Thank you for helping with this important issue,
2.What to do if you contact the FSA
(for multiple embedded links, go to:
Comment from Ian Panton
It is a good idea if people write/email the FSA that they head up their communication with
'complaint' or suchlike since complaints have to be individually accounted for whilst correspondence gets buried...URL below..
What is a complaint?
You should let us know if:
* you believe we have not met any of our statutory obligations
* we have failed to live up to our own service standards or our statement of general objectives and practices, for example if there have been undue delays in replying to correspondence
* you believe that we have not acted properly or followed the right procedures, for example in the conduct of public consultations, or in our procurement of goods and services
* you have not been able to access our information or other services because they are not available in a suitable language or format
* the conduct of any of our staff or Board members has fallen short of your expectations.
If you are dissatisfied with any decision or policy that the Food Standards Agency has made, please contact us so we can explain how that decision or policy was reached. If, after receiving our explanation, you believe you have grounds for a complaint, you should follow our complaints procedure.
plus a good list of emails is at:
BUT if people write to Jeff Rooker [Chair of the FSA] then the best contacts are:
Private Office of the Chair and Deputy Chair
Private Secretary to the Chair:
tel: 020 7276 8625
Private Secretary to the Deputy Chair:
tel: 020 7276 8626
All the best
To Ban GM Crops Globally
parliament voted on Thursday to tighten a law that effectively banned cultivation of genetically modified
(GM) crops for scientific and commercial reasons in response to public fears. The ruling centre-right GERB party decided to drop a planned moratorium
on GMO production because the new law would keep the European Union member GMO-free,
deputies said. 'There will be no field on the country's territory where GMOs can be
cultivated,' Kostadin Yazov of GERB's parliamentary group, said. Non-government
organisations, farmers and citizens have rallied for over two months against the government's
initial plans to replace a ban with a licensing regime, which they feared would flood the
Balkan country with GMO crops. The new law bans GMO cultivation in nature protected areas
and large buffer zones around those areas and fields with organic crops which effectively
means scientific experiments and commercial cultivation will be impossible in the Balkan
country. The amendments also forbid growing crops approved by the European
Commission such as the genetically modified potato, Amflora, developed by German chemical
maker BASF, and three genetically modified maize types, made by U.S. biotech firm
Monsanto. Under the law, fines for perpetrators were
raised to up to one million levs ($698,300). Protesters said they were happy with the new
Bulgaria approves law to ban GMO crops
Reuters, 18 March 2010
To Ban GM Crops In Europe
You Need To Know About GM Crops And Food
Is No Need To Feel Powerless
natural law publishing