What you need to do by 17 March
The following UK call to action has come in from a correspondent of ours, who has given us permission to publish it anonymously.
"Post-Brexit Britain": A new GM food fight
What you need to do by 17 March
11 March 2021
Orders from Brussels?
The Scotsman, 8 January 2021:
"The news that a full consultation on gene editing techniques has begun in England was welcomed by many at yesterday’s Oxford Farming Conference, but [Scottish] rural economy secretary, Fergus Ewing, said Scotland will not be following suit in the short term. Speaking at the conference, Ewing condemned any notion of England considering going it alone on the issue as 'premature' and said that any resulting divergence between the UK and EU on the issue could pose a serious threat to free trading of goods. He said the move was especially precipitous when the EU was currently reviewing the stance which it had taken after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in 2018 that gene edited crops should be subjected to the same rigorous regulatory framework as older genetically modified varieties, despite the fact that no foreign DNA was introduced. 'So we do, in Scotland, have strong reservations about pressing ahead with a consultation when the EU’s own findings will be released in April.' However, Defra secretary, George Eustice issued a strong rebuttal, stating things had changed since the UK had left the trading block. 'We no longer have to sit on our hands and wait for orders to be passed down from Brussels,' he said."
Or orders from Washington?
Food Navigator, 4 February 2020:
"The UK’s Food and Drink Federation has repeated its pleas that it wants to keep trading ties closely aligned with the EU’s after British prime minister Boris Johnson dismissed fears about food standards as ‘mumbo jumbo’ and implied that GM food imports from the US would be allowed.
In his first speech since the UK left the EU, Johnson set out his commitment to free trade and attacked what he called ‘hysterical fears’ about US food standards. He told 'America bashers in this country' that 'free trade deals we will be governed by science and not by mumbo-jumbo'. The UK, for the moment, says it won’t end the current EU ban on chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef. However, when asked about the government’s stance on allowing genetically modified food into the UK after Brexit, a spokesperson for Number 10 pointed to Johnson’s first speech as prime minister last year. At the time, he said: 'Let’s liberate the UK’s extraordinary bioscience sector from anti-genetic modification rules...”
Lockdown in Britain is not over yet. So how are you going to spend this coming weekend? None of it in a restaurant, that's for sure.
Below is a message that has come in which gives you a steer as to how this weekend can be best spent if you live in England, or even elsewhere in the UK. Namely, responding to the latest government consultation on GM food and crops.
Although a consultation aimed at the situation in England, it also has ramifications for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, to say nothing of those for UK food exports.
As soon the British Prime Minister won the last election he started sending out signals that he was going to do this, namely to begin reducing regulatory controls of GM crops and food to a level below that which has applied for years under EU regulations. He did this in his first speech as Prime Minister. Why?
Because he desperately wants a trade deal with the United States post Brexit.
If he gets what he wants, then GM crops will gradually (or maybe not so gradually) become a feature of UK agriculture (they haven't been so far), and so will imports of GM food from America (which do take place currently, but mostly limited to farm animal feed).
This new consultation represents the first step towards de-regulating GM foods and crops in the UK. If what is proposed goes ahead it is unlikely to be the last.
You may not have been in a restaurant for a long time. But when you return to dining out, what are you going to be eating?
This weekend is your chance to make clear to the government what you DON'T want to be eating.
The first part of the consultation is mainly, but not wholly, about creating a favourable regulatory environment for gene editing, a relatively new form of genetic engineering. First of all, the government 'wants' your views on that.
The second part concerns the government's longer-term interest in de-regulating GM food technologies on a wider basis.
If that doesn't sound great to you, then you now know what to do this weekend.
Submit your views online (see details below) by 23:59 Wednesday (17 March).
Oh yes, and tell your friends about this too.
Being ruled from Washington is not a good exchange for not being ruled from Brussels.
The UK government is inviting us to give them our views on gene editing. I would urge you to take them up on their offer and give your view. The deadline for replies is March 17. Here is the link:
You can obtain more background information from GMWatch or GM Freeze:
See https://www.gmwatch.org/en/news/latest-news/19697 for a good scientific critique of Defra's position.
For me personally I just want gene editing to be regulated and any gene-edited foodstuffs to be labelled so the consumer has a choice regarding what they eat. The government is looking to remove regulations now that we are out of the EU (in the EU, gene-edited foods would be regulated) and that would mean no labelling on gene-edited foodstuffs.