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Food Chain Says “No Thanks!” to GM Wheat Embargoed for 11.00 hours 19 April 2012

Advanced notice (19 Apr 2012)

Calls to: Pete Riley GM Freeze 07903 341 065

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19 April 11.00 Defra Offices, Smith Square, Westminster
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Food Chain Says “No Thanks!” to GM Wheat – Natural aphid control is the future

Farmers, celebrity chefs, bakers, businesses, trade unionists, consumers and international organisations will deliver a Pledge rejecting GM wheat to Defra at 11.00 hours on 19 April as part of the “GM Wheat? No Thanks!” campaign organised by national umbrella group GM Freeze.

Representatives from the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union and the Real Bread Campaign, as well as individual bakers, farmers and consumers from across the UK, will tell the Government they [1]:

  • Will not buy GM wheat or any products containing GM wheat.
  • Will not use GM wheat in our businesses.
  • Do not want GM wheat or the risks it brings to our food chain and countryside.
  • Want the money being spent on testing GM wheat to be used for non-GM agricultural research.

The campaign is also supported by Ethical Consumer.

Today GM Freeze publishes a review of research projects showing the GM wheat being trialled in Hertfordshire by Rothamsted Research is unnecessary. The research shows farmers can manage their farms to attract predators and parasites of aphids to make ensure the pest never reaches numbers that would reduce yield from wheat crops. [2] The GM wheat therefore poses pointless risks to non-GM farming and exports.

Ian Hodson President of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union added:

Our members feel that there are too many unknowns and risks associated with GM food. We believe the health and wellbeing of people should be put before profit, and people have the right to know what’s in their food. GM foods should not enter the food chain until it is proven beyond doubt there are no associated risks. GM crops have been heralded as the future by some, but previous experience tells us that such promises need to be very carefully scrutinised to before allowing them to enter our environment and food chain.

Chris Young from the Real Bread Campaign commented:

The Real Bread Campaign works to find ways to make the whole chain from seed to sandwich better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet. Has GM technology ever done anything that supports any of these aims? If it has, could the same or better results have been achieved by non-GM means? We need to be working with nature, not against it.

Leonie Nimmo from Ethical Consumer added:

Open air trials of GM wheat threaten to eliminate the right of consumers to choose non-GM wheat products. GM crops have been proved to contaminate non-GM sources time and again. Supermarkets are well aware that British consumers have rejected GM crops and that the more GM food is in circulation the harder it is to guarantee uncontaminated supplies. They need to respect the wishes of their customers, not only to keep their supply chains GM-free, but to pressurise the government to halt these trials.

Pete Riley from GM Freeze said:

This is the beginning of a campaign to ensure our staple foods, even our daily bread, remain free of GM wheat. From what we’ve seen so far, shoppers who don’t want to support the GM industry should go local – we’ve had a great response from local bakeries saying they won’t use GM wheat, but bigger companies have so far been much more reluctant to confirm this with us.

GM wheat would have a profound impact on the food chain because of the constant threat of contamination from seed to plate. Research in this country shows that we don’t need GM to control aphids in wheat if our farm management encourages the many species of insect and spiders which naturally control them. This approach simultaneously provides habitats for other wildlife, like pollinators and farmland birds, making our farms healthier places.

ENDS

Notes

1. ”We pledge ‘No’ to GM wheat

2. GM Freeze, 19 April 2012. Aphid Control in Wheat without GM – Embargoed for 19 April. Copies available to the press from pete@gmfreeze.org