Pressure groups intensify campaign to derail GM guidance

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Gm, European union, European commission

Friends of the Earth, GM Freeze target European Commission's GM stance
Pressure groups Friends of the Earth (FoE) and GM Freeze have stepped up their campaign to derail EU safety guidelines for introducing genetically modified (GM) animals into Europe.

Both groups claim the Commission’s efforts to introduce the guidance, which was composed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) last month, indicated it was preparing for GM food sales in the EU. GM Freeze said the guidelines would enable biotech companies to ask for permission to develop GM animals in Europe, where before they could not.

FoE has revealed responses from major European supermarket chains it canvassed earlier this year to strengthen its arguments, claiming none of them had any plans to sell meat or products from GM animals.

The group has provided a quote from Aldi that states: “We demand in our contracts with all our suppliers to avoid GM materials or GM additives in food production. This includes all steps of the production and all ingredients.”

Use of GM labelled ingredients excluded

It published a similar quote from Edeka: “We exclude explicitly for our own brands the use of any GM labelled ingredients. Similar conditions are contractually defined for other food brand products.” ​FoE made public equivalent opinions from Marks and Spencer, Morrisons and Sainsbury.

FoE said the Commission had refused to delay the official drafting of technical guidance before all stakeholders could be canvassed on whether they wanted GM food in Europe. The organisation published a response to concerns sent by civil society groups on January 27 from the Directorate General for Health and Consumers that stated: “The finalisation of the EFSA guidance on the environmental release of GM animals is expected for 2012. As usual, a public consultation on the draft document(s) is foreseen.”

“Preposterous”

Mute Schimpf, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “The idea of eating GM meat or milk turns people’s stomachs. Leading European supermarkets know it would be bad for business to sell GM animal products and will not stock them. Not a single country allows GM animals for food production. So why is the European Commission starting a procedure to approve such products? It’s preposterous.”

Pete Riley, campaign director for GM Freeze, asked: “Why has the European Commission decided to spend money on this when times are so hard? European consumers have already rejected GM food, so why would parents want to feed their families on meat, fish and milk from GM animals, especially as the production of GM animals will raise additional ethical concerns?"

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Presposterousness unresolved

Posted by Valentine Dyall,

I notice with regret that nobody responded to my request for EVIDENCE in support of turned stomachs, producing only assertion. And presumably everyone accepts that European consumers do buy GM-foods when they are available on the shelves?

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Turned stomach right here!

Posted by Jennifer Christiano,

Dear Mr. Dyall,
Although I live in the US and not Europe, I will go on record as stating that the thought of eating the flesh, eggs or milk from GE animals turns my stomach! I am already a lacto-vegan, in part because my stomach turns at the thought of eating flesh - especially flesh impregnated with growth hormones, psticides, heavy metals and other toxic substances - but I still consume dairy and I do NOT want ANY type of chemical, hormonal or genetic adulteration of it!
As for proof? Please! See my grocery receipts! I go out of my way to spend additional time, money and care to select dairy (and many other) products that are produced organically and humanely, and which are guaranteed free of rBGH, chicken manure, growth promoters and other filth. And judging by the throngs at our local farmer's market, the upswing in the number of shoppers at our local Co-Op, the increasing number of local community-sponsored farms around here and the rapid influx of new natural stores such as Natural Grocers and Huckleberries, I would say, to quote John Lennon, "that I'm not the only one".

You don't really want proof, Mr. Dyall, because if you did, you would see it all around you. You just want to shut the opposition up. Well, I've got news. It isn't going to happen.

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All of Europe eats animals raised on GM feed...

Posted by John,

... hence also the subtle qualification in the statement from the food and retail industry that they exclude "the use of any GM LABELLED ingredients." This means that the food contains all kind of GMOs that do not need to be labelled and that the vast majority of animal products comes from animals that were fed on GM soybeans and GM maize. As to the ethical concerns, perhaps Riley should discuss with a vegan whether eating animals per se isn't the main problem... But of course, as GM crops are on the market since more than 15 years already, the pressure groups need a new topic to generate donations. Who wants to become unemployed in these harsh times? (If only they did something productive, then we'd also get over the crisis better and quicker...)

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