What today’s EU vote on GMOs means to you

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

Photo: Bigstock

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.

How this affects all of us in the UK

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.”

A chain reaction

The likely chain of events set in motion by the adoption of the Directive is:

  • UK government momentum to sweep away the Precautionary Principle”, the “polluter pays” principle, indeed all legal and technical obstacles to GMOs in our farming and food, will increase from the start of 2015.
  • Syngenta’s GMO maize (GA21) with tolerance to glyphosate could find some uptake in the UK by 2016.
  • Research institutions in the UK will gear up their GM crop trials and, using taxpayer money, plant more research field trials to benefit the GMO industry and private patent holders.

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.”

Now is the time to speak up

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.

  • Share this with friends, family, colleagues and anyone else who you think would like to contribute.
  • Post it with a link to the campaign on social media
  • While you are at it send a copy to your MP (you can do this on the site) to let him or her know we do not want GM crops here in the UK.

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.

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You can find your MP and get in touch directly by visiting www.writetothem.com

Beyond false promises. Beyond failed technology. Beyond corporate control.
The time has come to move Beyond GM.

About this site::
GM Free Me is a Beyond GM initiative. Submitting your photo to this site is a vote for a safer, healthier more sustainable food system, for the health of our plants, animals and soil, for the independence and future security of our farmers. Thank you for speaking up.    Read more...