Defra/FSA Ignore Food Security as They Try to Please the GM Lobby
Immediate release (13 Aug 2009)
Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341 065 or 0845 217 8992
GM Freeze has accused Defra and the Food Standards Agency‘s analysis  of non-GM soya supplies for animal feed, published today, of “assuming the worst” and taking no account of long-term feed security or low farm gate prices.
The Defra/FSA report says that the ban on GM soya and maize that is not approved in the EU will interrupt supplies of animal feed. At present the EU policy is that no unapproved GM presence is tolerated in animal feed (“zero tolerance”). Some imports from the USA have been stopped at ports because of contamination with unapproved GM crops.
GM Freeze says that the new analysis ignores the serious structural problems of the UK livestock and poultry industry, which has become highly dependent on imported animal feed that has been subject to price hikes in the last two years. UK farmers are particularly vulnerable because of low farm gate prices for meat, milk and poultry, especially when competing against cheap imports from countries with lower animal welfare standards. GM Freeze also points to growing concern about the destructive nature of soya cultivation in South America, where forests are still being cleared for soya plantations, and the impacts of intensive soya monoculture on people and the environment become more evident.
The Freeze says that the Defra/FSA analysis assumes that soya supplies will continue to be GM dominated, despite higher prices offered for non-GM supplies. The analysis makes no mention of efforts made in Argentina to monitor maize cargoes destined for the EU and prevent them being dispatched if they contain unapproved GM traits. It also fails to look into why EU farmers find it difficult to get non-GM soya meal from Brazil when more than 21 million of tons are produced every year, sufficient to meet EU demand .
In addition, GM Freeze is also critical of the report for being weak on consumer choice. At present animal products, such as meat, milk and eggs, are not legally required to be labelled if they are produced using GM feed, despite massive public support for such labels.  The group says that greater reliance on GM feed by the UK’s poultry, livestock and dairy sectors would be a big risk at a time when the public is increasingly demanding quality products and have rejected GM ingredients in human food. Products produced without GM feed would make it easier for the UK’s farmers to compete against cheaper, lower quality GM-fed imports by providing a unique selling point.
Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:
The Defra/FSA analysis assumes the worst – that supplies of non-GM soya will dry up. South American farmers are canny at business and already see the opportunities to supply the EU with non-GM feed if offered a decent return. Governments in South America will be very reluctant to close off lucrative markets in the EU by approving additional GM soya varieties before they have approval in Europe. The analysis suffers from being given the wrong objectives at the start, which meant that the long-term problems of how to feed our poultry and livestock in a sustainable way in the future were largely bypassed to produce a report that plays to the short-term interests of the GM lobby in the UK.
Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341 065 or 0845 217 8992.
 See GM Crops and Foods: Follow-up to the Food Matters Report by Defra and the FSA: www.defra.gov.uk/environment/gm/crops/index.htm.