Skip to content
for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

Labour’s GM Contamination ‘Legally Flawed’

Immediate release (19 Oct 2006)

As Government’s GM consultation ends, a new legal opinion, published today, says that Government’s proposals on how to protect conventional and organic crops from contamination from GM crops are legally and “fundamentally flawed”. The opinion is published as the Government’s public consultation on its GM ‘coexistence’ proposals draws to a close [1], and as campaigners and farmers gathered in Westminster to reject the Government’s “GM pollution plan” [2].

GM crops are not currently grown commercially in the UK, but the Government wants to put in place ‘coexistence’ rules to allow them to be grown alongside conventional and organic crops in the future. But the proposals for measures for England are seriously flawed, and if implemented, will allow widespread GM contamination of UK food and farming.

The legal opinion was prepared for Friends of the Earth, The Soil Association and GM Freeze by two of the UK’s leading European law specialists. It sets out how and why the Government’s proposals are not compatible with European law [3]. This includes:

  • Defra’s proposal to “minimise” GM contamination of conventional and organic crops rather than “avoid” it, is “flawed and inconsistent with Community law”
  • On the Government’s suggestion that a Public Register of sites where GM crops are grown is not legally required under EU Law, the opinion is very clear: “Its position that there is no requirement in law for a public register is fundamentally flawed and ignores the provisions of Directive 2001/18”.
  • On the exclusion of allotment holders and gardeners from those who should be legally informed of the intention to plant a GM crop near their land: “this approach isfundamentally flawed”.

GM Freeze Director, Pete Riley said:

The Government appears to be willing to re-write EU law and the dictionary to make sure GM crop growing can progress unhindered. If GM crops become reality, the consultation proposals would cut the ground from under consumers and farmers – their right to choose GM free products or grow GM free food would disappear as GM contamination spreads.

Friends of the Earth’s GM Campaigner, Clare Oxborrow said:

Government proposals for rules that allow GM crops to be grown alongside conventional and organic crops are a thinly veiled attempt to introduce GM crops through the back door. Allowing routine, unlabelled, GM contamination of conventional and organic crops is not only unacceptable to the public, it is legally flawed too. Ministers must tear up this GM pollution plan and protect our food, farming and environment from GM contamination.

Soil Association Policy Director, Peter Melchett said:

The Government’s proposals to deny organic and other farmers the choice of staying free of GM contamination break their repeated promises to keep organic food uncontaminated by GMOs. It is now clear that on top of banning choice and breaking their word, they will also be breaking the law.

Michael Meacher MP, former Environment Minister said:

This consultation is the Government’s latest attempt to back the GM industry over the wishes of the British public. Instead of paving the way for GM crops to be grown in England, David Miliband must take on board the thousands of responses rejecting the Government’s GM contamination plans and put in place policies that protect GM free food and truly promote his vision of sustainable farming.


More information:

Clare Oxborrow , Friends of the Earth 07712 843211
Pete Riley GM Freeze, 07903 341065
Peter Melchett Soil Association 07740 951066

[1] Consultation on proposals for managing the coexistence of GM, conventional and organic crops. Deadline for public comments: Friday 20 October. See

[2] People from around the country will join farmers and giant fruit and veg in Westminster today to reject the Government’s plans and hand in a hamper of local, speciality and seasonal foods from around the country for David Miliband, Secretary of State for the Environment to highlight all the positive reasons why food and farming must be protected from GM contamination.

[3] Full legal opinion by Paul Lasok QC and Rebecca Haynes is available here.