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for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

Tell candidates: We want to know about new-style GMOs

Posted 14th June 2024 in News

A subset of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will soon be entering our food and farming systems unlabelled and untraceable, unless enough of us act now to stop it. We’ve teamed up with Beyond GM and GM Watch to make this easy for you –

Visit our Action Page to write to candidates!

Now is the time to pressure your prospective MPs to call for:

  1. Mandatory labelling of all forms of genetically altered organisms – including those that are described as “gene edited” or “precision bred”.
  2. Transparency and traceability – so that we know what genetically altered crops are being grown and which foods contain them.
  3. Public consultation – we demand to be informed and have a genuine say about how new-style GMOs are regulated.

An opportunity

The Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act was passed in 2023, removing controls over a subset of genetically altered organisms which the British Government refers to as “precision bred organisms”[1].

But the secondary legislation, which will make the Act operational, has not yet gone through parliament. We therefore have a rare opportunity to curb the worst aspects of the Act by convincing candidates to take a stand against unlabelled and untraceable new-style GMOs in our food and farming systems.

We need to tell our new MPs that we have a right to know about new-style GMOs in our food and fields. They will have the power to influence secondary legislation in the coming months, and ensure that all genetically altered organisms are identifiable to consumers and traceable throughout the farming and food systems.

What’s your problem?

There are many problems with the way that the government intends to remove controls over new-style GMOs, and you may want to raise any of these in your letters with MPs. They include:

  • No requirement to label.
  • No independent safety testing – this will all be conducted by the developers.
  • No traceability through supply chains.
  • No scientific definition of what a “precision bred organism” is, and no requirement for developers to prove this categorisation and thereby avoid the controls that still exist over other forms of GMOs.
  • The potential for a regulatory framework that is different to Europe.
    • This could result in checks at our borders for all agricultural exports – impacting our biggest export market and all those that depend on this trade.[2]
  • This English legislation will have a negative impact on the ability of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to adequately regulate new-style GMOs.
  • Government agencies have chosen not to invest in the development of analytical methods for the detection of new-style GMOs.
    • Developers will not have to provide the information required to make independent testing for new-style GMOs easier.
  • Government agencies are failing to adequately address the issue of how the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act will impact the number and type of animal experiments that will be conducted, for example, in the process of developers generating safety data.

What is ultimately at stake is the ability to maintain segregation with non-GMO supply chains, including organic supply chains.

We must Act Now – before we lose our right to choose.

Write to your candidates.

[1] The government claims that these “could have” been produced using conventional breeding methods.  However, there is no scientific evidence for this claim and developers do not have to prove it. Other terms include gene editing and products derived using New Genomic Techniques (NGTs).

[2] Note that the European Parliament has voted to require labelling and traceability of products of “New Genomic Techniques” (NGTs). Note also that DEFRA has estimated this trade to be worth £8.5 billion, though the effect on the wider economy and workers that depend on it will be far greater.