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for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

FSA’s GM ‘Dialogue’ in Chaos as Second Steering Committee Member Resigns

Immediate release (2 Jun 2010)

Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341 065

The GM Public ‘Dialogue’, being planned by the Food Standards Agency for later in 2010, is in chaos following the resignation of a second Steering Committee member in less than a week.

Professor Brian Wynne [1] resigned from the independent panel charged with overseeing the conduct of the GM ‘Dialogue’, which the Labour Government asked the FSA to run last year. Last week Dr Helen Wallace of the think-tank GeneWatch UK resigned over the selection of contractors to run the project when it was revealed they were already working for a major biotechnology company in order to “position the company as a positive force”. [2]

Professor Wynne’s resignation letter highlights serious differences between the Steering Committee’s view of the purpose of the dialogue and those of the FSA. He accuses the FSA of adopted a “dogmatically entrenched” pro-GM position and says that the GM dialogue could become a “public mistrust generator”. Professor Wynne is heavily critical of FSA chair, ex-Labour Minister Lord Rooker, who is said to describe the public views on GM food and crops as “anti-science”.

Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:

The Coalition Government needs to look very seriously at how the FSA is attempting to use the ‘dialogue’ process to gather information on what the public thinks about GM so they can the use it to manipulate public opinion in a pro-GM direction. This would be a gross misuse of public funds, and Ministers need to put a stop to it.

There is an urgent need to have a genuine dialogue with the public about how we can adapt diet and food production to meet the challenges posed by climate change, dwindling natural resources and rising population, but such a debate should go way beyond the narrow, vested interests of biotech companies. The FSA is far too close to industry on this issue, which is a deep disappointment for an organisation that was set up as an independent regulator and food safety champion for the public just 10 years ago.

ENDs

Notes
[1] Professor Brian Wynne is from the ESRC Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics, Cesagen, Lancaster University. His resignation letter can be downloaded from www.genewatch.org/.

[2] From Helen Wallace’s resignation letter from GM Dialogue available at www.genewatch.org/uploads/f03c6d66a9b354535738483c1c3d49e4/resignation.doc.

See also GM Freeze press release here.