How can I stay GM-free
2.Keeping UK supermarkets GM-Free
1.How can I stay GM free?
The Observer, August 24 2008
With GM crops used in products from plastic to pants, buying organic is the best way to avoid them, says Lucy Siegle
There is a decidedly retro feel to the sheepish return of GM to the UK. Like the transgenic crop version of a back-to-the-Nineties album, we find ourselves transported to the high emotions of a decade ago; Prince Charles kicking off on the radio and people in jumpsuits tearing up GM test sites (this time around a Leeds University potato trial).
Pulling up GM crops is one very literal way of attempting to stay GM free, but it is ill advised. Apart from the criminal-damage issue, this type of direct action plays into the hands of the GM cheerleaders, who like to label any opposition Luddite or unscientific, which it is not. It is impossible to set out all the scientific arguments against GM here (for a summary see Forum for the Future's Five Capitals model, www.forumforthefuture.org/node/4625). Suffice to say, a decade on from the outcry that effectively placed a moratorium on GM in the UK, many reservations remain, including the thorny issue of cross-contamination of non-GM crops.
The most effective way to fight GM as an individual is via your shopping list, as it was last time, when the wholesale rejection of the Flavr Savr tomato (in which the rotting gene had been removed) meant that retailers soon lost their appetite for transgenic wares.
Admittedly, this time it's more difficult. Last year a record 282.3m acres of the world's croplands were planted with GM soya beans, corn, cotton and other core GM crops, and some 90 per cent of conventional animal feed is thought to contain GM maize. This means it's easy to unwittingly support GM, especially through cotton, bioplastics (derived from GM corn) and processed food, meat and dairy. The best defence remains organic (GM ingredients are not permitted under organic standards), and meat and dairy from retailers - notably M&S - that specify GM free.
There is one departure from the Nineties debate: GM advocates are now citing the global food crisis as motivation. Strikingly, the biotech industry seems keen to play this down. As the chairman of Syngenta admitted to the Guardian recently, 'GM won't solve the food crisis, at least not in the short term.'
But then it's not the job of transnational biotech giants to feed the world. Their job is to make money for shareholders - the combined market value of the two big rivals Monsanto and Syngenta now exceeds $100bn. A decade on, the point remains that just as Flavr Savr are not the only tomatoes, GM is not the only system for growing food in the future. In many ways it could be the worst, not least because it thrives on monocultures and threatens the very basis of our ecology.
As physicist and campaigner against the privitisation of the world's croplands Vandana Shiva (www.navdanya.org) puts it: 'In any crisis, uniformity is the worst way to respond; diversity is resilience.' You won't get diversity with GM.
2.GM-Free foods campaign
Keeping UK supermarkets GM-Free
Please write to the following supermarkets (in your own words) and urge them to maintain their current policy of keeping their own-brand food products GM-free - as demanded by the vast majority of UK consumers over the past eleven years. You may wish to request a response in writing.
Supermarkets contact addresses
Great Wilson Street
The Co-operative Group
New Century House
The Chief Executive
Iceland Foods Limited
Deeside Industrial Park
Marks & Spencer
Chester Business Park
Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc
Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd
Budgens Stores Limited