GM Freeze lodges complaint to FSA over timing of consultation on Precision Bred Organism regulation The timing will prohibit participation by consumer-focussed businesses, says campaign group
Immediate release (15 Nov 2023)
GM Freeze has today sent an open letter of complaint to the Food Standards Agency regarding the timing of its consultation on the post-Brexit regulation of ‘precision bred’ organisms (PBOs), claiming it will discriminate against consumer-focussed businesses.
The consultation runs for two months – a month less than the government recommends for public consultations – and coincides exactly with the Christmas period. GM Freeze is concerned that many consumer-facing and supplying businesses will simply be too busy to respond.
“The timing of the FSA consultation is either administratively inept or a cynical attempt to stifle responses from those who will be most affected,” said GM Freeze Executive Director Leonie Nimmo. “The proposed new framework could profoundly change the relationships and trust between suppliers, retailers and consumers, yet the timing of the consultation is likely to have a chilling impact on the ability of consumer-focussed businesses to respond.”
The consultation is complex and involves technical, scientific and legal details which will take time to analyse. However, according to Nimmo, the agenda underpinning the new framework is straightforward deregulation. “The proposals involve abandoning the precautionary principle – whereby products are safety tested before they are sold – coupled with no traceability built into the system and shredding of the rights of consumers to be informed about what they buy at the point of sale,” she said.
“The stakes are very high for everybody in the supply chain. What would happen in the event of a safety-related product recall, for example?” she asked. “Distributors including supermarkets will need time to take legal advice on their obligations; there is no way they can formulate a response to the consultation in a matter of weeks.”
GM Freeze calls on the FSA to revise its timescale to enable meaningful engagement with the consultation. Significant barriers to participation over the Christmas period threaten to exclude – and therefore discriminate against – key stakeholder groups.
Notes to editors
GM Freeze’s full letter to the FSA is available here.
For comments contact leonie[at]gmfreeze.org or call 0845 217 8992.
GM Freeze is a membership organisation that campaigns for adequate safety regimes, transparency and regulation in relation to the development and commercial release of genetically modified and gene edited plants and animals.