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for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

Decision to Abandon FSA GM Dialogue Welcomed

Immediate release (17 Sep 2010)

Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341 065

GM Freeze welcomed Science Minister David Willets’ announcement that the Food Standards Agency’s planned GM Dialogue will be abandoned.

The FSA’s GM dialogue was being planned at the bequest of the previous government in collaboration with ScienceWise and the Central Office of Information. [1]

The planning of the dialogue ran into problems in May 2010 when two members of the independent steering committee, including the vice chair, resigned over concerns about the motivations behind the dialogue and the process for selecting contractors to carry it out. [2]

Yesterday David Willets said:

I’m announcing today that the GM dialogue project will not continue in its current format. However, it’s vital to engage people of all ages on scientific issues, so that they have a real say about developments which can affect all of us. Instead we are taking this valuable opportunity to step back and review past dialogues on GM and other areas of science to ensure we understand how best to engage the public over such issues. [3]

The public remains concerned about the use of GM technology in food production according to a poll about the use of GM animal feed earlier this year [4].

Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:

We welcome the decision to abandon the GM dialogue – the project was flawed from the start because Ministers in the previous government and the FSA saw it as an opportunity to persuade the public that they were wrong to oppose GM food and crops. The resignations highlighted the fact that it would never have been a dialogue in the true sense of the word because the sponsors were only seeking one outcome.

Public involvement in major decisions about our food and its production is vital. It’s not just for science – there are complex socio-economic and cultural factors that must be allowed to guide and influence the final decisions. Food and farming policies barely get a mention during election campaigns, so we would welcome genuine attempts to work with the public in order to shape the future direction for food and farming.

ENDs

Notes
[1] See www.food.gov.uk/gmfoods/gm/gmdialogue/.

[2] See Resignation letter from Professor Brian Wynn and Dr Helen Wallace at www.genewatch.org/article.shtml?als[cid]=492860&als[itemid]=566339.

[3] See http://nds.coi.gov.uk/content/Detail.aspx?NewsAreaID=2&ReleaseID=415513.

[4] See poll here.