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.
“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.
“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" said Pete Riley of GM Freeze.
"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"
"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.”