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.”
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?"