Today’s European Parliament vote opens the door to GMOs in the UK and the rest of the EU. There’s never been a more urgent time to speak out.
January 13, 2015 by Pat Thomas
Today the European Parliament debated then voted on a controversial Directive that would allow individual Member States to ban cultivation of genetically modified organisms on their territories even when the crop is authorised at EU level.
While some may think this is a good thing, in fact the flawed and deeply compromised Directive, which was written behind closed doors at EU level, means that the UK is now more likely than ever to fast track the planting of GM crops and open the doors to more GM products in our food supply.
There is no question that Europe’s stand against GMOs remained strong for so many years in part because of strong public opposition and in part because the planting and importing of GMOs was controlled centrally through the EU. This meant that individual Member States that wished to keep GMOs out of the EU could wield collective power to veto attempts to bring this failed and risky technology to the EU.
With that coalition broken up pro-GMO countries, including the UK are now free to plant GMOs which is why the Directive which is known as the ‘opt-out’ is in reality an “opt-in” that opens the door to more GMOs throughout the EU.
We know that plans are afoot to bring GMOs to the UK as soon as is practicable because Beyond GM, the umbrella organisation of which GM Free Me is a part, has received a letter from Defra minster Lord de Mauley, confirming that: “the government will ensure that pragmatic rules are in place to segregate GM and non-GM production”.
The letter was in response to the Beyond GM initiative The Letter from America which was delivered to the Prime Minister’s office in November.
While none of the current crops approved in the EU are suitable for EU soils, it is expected that the adoption of the directive will open the door to a number of new crop approvals and that we could see planting in the UK by 2016- 2017.
While it is theoretically possible for member states to decline to plant GMOS, the criteria for doing so is very narrow. There are very real concerns that any opt-outs would not be legally sound and would be subject to costly legal challenges.
In the UK, the Scottish and Welsh governments may find it very difficult indeed to maintain their bans on GMOs under the new ruling.
There is also a real danger of cross-contamination of crops, with the myriad of issues this poses for farmers and consumers.
The new legislation, which will come into effect in Spring 2015, does not contain meaningful measures to prevent contamination of non-GM crops or establish liability rules to give non-GMO farmers legal and financial protection.
These issues will be left to EU Member States and according to Beyond GM Director Pat Thomas: “Based on past performance, we have no reason to expect the UK government will put in place robust and legally binding arrangements to protect non-GM farmers and the countryside.”
The likely chain of events set in motion by the adoption of the Directive is:
At the same time GMO ingredients and products are increasingly finding their way into the UK food system while supermarkets refuse to put GM labels on livestock products where the animals have been fed GMO feed.
In his letter, Lord de Mauley assures Beyond GM that; “In the UK, the Government believes people should know what they are buying in shops or in restaurants.”
But, says Thomas, “Lord de Mauley’s assurances will have a hollow and hypocritical ring to consumers. Until GM-fed livestock products are labelled we cannot trust that either the Government or the supermarkets is acting in good faith – or in the best interests – of UK consumers when it comes to GMOs.”
The majority of people in the UK don’t want GMOs here. We believe it is now more urgent than ever that citizens across the UK demonstrate their concerns around the GMO issue, to help force Government to put in place measures that will ensure our right to be GM free; and will protect farmland, the countryside, and the food chain from GMO contamination.
The GM Free Me visual petition is growing every week (see our new video here). If you want to have a say in how we feed ourselves, and how we feed the world, now is the time to participate.
Once you have uploaded your photo holding the downloadable GM free me card, or holding up e-card or just the logo on your phone or tablet, and added your comment, you will be sent a link to your personal page.
Don’t wait until it’s too late and the UK becomes like the US, where consumers have little to no choice in what they eat.
You can find your MP and get in touch directly by visiting www.writetothem.com