Government Rejects EAC Call for Tighter GM Controls
Immediate release (12 Sep 2012)
Calls to: Pete Riley, GM Freeze 07903 341 065
The Government response  to the Environmental Audit Committee’s (EAC) Report on Sustainable Food  today rejected all of the Committee’s recommendations for tighter regulation and scrutiny of GM food and crops including:
- “Additional conditionalities applied to GM crops beyond those which form part of the EU environmental risk assessment and authorisation procedure.”
- “A new independent body should be established to research, evaluate and report on the potential impacts on the environment of GM crops, and their impacts on farming and on the global food system.”
The Government claims to “strongly support” consumer choice, saying, “Defra will implement pragmatic and proportionate measures to segregate these from conventional and organic crops, so that choice can be exercised and economic interests appropriately protected,” but provides no indication aa to how they think producers will be protected.
The Government wants to, “Leave the normal operation of the market to determine whether or not an approved GM product gains acceptance,” but without necessary protection from the problems GM crops cause, food and farming businesses producing non-GM products face technical and financial complications and potentially loss of their businesses altogether. Australia is experiencing significant GM contamination incidents involving oilseed rape, despite Government assurances there would be none, and farmers have been forced to go to court because of lack of clear liability legislation. 
Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:
The Committee identified shortcoming in the present systems for overseeing the approval of GM crops, but the Government has rejected their sensible proposals to address them. The Government says it, ‘Takes a science-led approach to GM,’ but then ignores calls from the Parliament to examine the science.
GM crops have promised much but performed abysmally to date. Yet GM continues to soak up public research money that should be spent on more promising technologies. Instead of throwing good money after bad, we should be learning from countries growing GM crops, where a predictable evolution of resistant weeds and insects is overwhelming GM technology and escalating the pesticides arms race. US farmers now struggle to control the spread of both superweeds and superbugs in their crops at considerable cost.
The Government’s response is full of holes, and GM Freeze is extremely concerned that despite claims to favour choice it fails to provide any assurance that non-GM farmers, growers and beekeepers will be protected from if their businesses are contaminated with GM traits. Biotech companies must be held strictly liable for any harm caused by their products, including contamination. Once again this crucial issue is being ignored. This will cut no ice with farmers, and the Government should make it perfectly clear that the right to farm without fear of GM contamination will be guaranteed because the biotech companies will be liable when things go wrong – as they most assuredly will.
2. House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, 30 April 2012, Sustainable Food: Eleventh Report of Session 2010–12
3. ABC News, 6 July 2012. “GM canola contamination leads to court showdown”