FSA Face GM Rice Review GM Freeze Calls for Select Committee to Oversee Agency
Immediate release (27 Nov 2007)
Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341 065
GM Freeze has submitted a detailed critique to the FSA as part of the Agency’s review of its handling of the GM LL601 rice contamination incident  first revealed in August 2006. The submission will be included in discussions at a Review meeting on Thursday, 29 November . Amongst Freeze recommendations is the creation of a Select Committee in the House of Commons to scrutinize the Agency’s performance across all their responsibilities.
The FSA’s handling of the LL601 case was subject to a Judicial Review in January 2007 launched by Friends of the Earth. At the Judicial Review Hearing, FSA officials promised the judge an internal review of the incident. Investigations in the USA have been unable to find the cause of the contamination [3 and 4] because key records were lost or destroyed. GM Freeze is concerned that the investigation in the UK is able to be more conclusive about what did or did not happen in the UK.
In their written submission to the FSA review, GM Freeze make 11 recommendations aimed at avoiding similar GM contaminations incidents in the future. In addition to the establishment of a FSA Select Committee in the Commons, recommendations include setting up a clear structure to deal with food incidents headed by the FSA but working in partnership with local authorities, as well as a increase in the monitoring and enforcement budgets for Port Health Authorities and local authorities departments monitoring the food and feed chain. GM Freeze also set out 30 questions that the review must cover if future GM contamination incidents are to be prevented. These are critical of nine key areas of FSA policy and practice:
- The lack of forward planning by the FSA to handle contamination incidents.
- The capacity for the FSA to carry out forward planning.
- The impact of the lack of availability of an analytical technique to test for LL601 rice during the first few weeks of the incident.
- The FSA’s failure to issue a Food Alert at any time during the incident.
- The flawed chain of command between the FSA and the local authorities.
- The failure to pick up LL601 during routine UK monitoring.
- The FSA’s overall authority of contamination incidents and consideration of the role the local authorities and the FSA in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should play.
- Whether there were internal and/or external influences which affected the FSA’s performance.
- Whether the FSA’s relationships with the UK food industry and their trade bodies affected the handling of the LL601 contamination case (of particular importance given the recent appointment of a food industry boss as the FSA’s new Chief Executive).
Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:
The FSA Review must probe very deeply to find out why they reacted so slowly and ineffectively at the start of the LL601 GM rice contamination in August 2006. We will be expecting the review to put the FSA’s GMO policy in the spotlight. For too long, they have promoted GM crops before other farming systems, such as organic. Parliament needs to make sure that the FSA’s policy and practice are consistent and reliable, that is why we are proposing a Commons Select Committee to oversee their activity. We desperately need to avoid another shambolic handling of a GM contamination case.
Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341 065.
 See GM Freeze submission here.