GM campaign update Spring 2008

A new report (Feb 2008) from Friends of the Earth International shows GM crops have led to a massive increase in pesticide use and have failed to tackle hunger and poverty:

Press release:
http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/
gm_crops_increase_pesticid_13022008.html

Q&A:
http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/who_benefits_questions.pdf

Exec summary:
http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/who_benefits_summary.pdf
Full report: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/who_benefits.pdf

A newish report shows how much the UK is supporting agricultural biotech, how this is unjustified given its failure to deliver, and that organic – which is delivering for the environment, the economy and society – should be better supported.
http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/planting_prejudice.pdf
Full report is here:
http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/planting_prejudice_full.pdf

GM Freeze have just finished a briefing on the latest GM potato application for trials by Leeds University (cyst nematode resistant). Deadline for public comments is 3 March. Friends of the Earth and GM Freeze have written to Hilary Benn about ACRE discussing the application (21 Feb) before the deadline for public comments (3 March).

See also the articles in the Guardian:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/feb/16/gmcrops.greenpolitics
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/feb/16/gmcrops.food
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/jul/26/gmcrops
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/feb/16/gmcrops.food1

Campaign History

Action 2006: Response to GM coexistence consultation
Say NO to GM contamination and help us modify the Government’s attitude to ‘coexistence’

There is a consultation underway with a deadline of 20 October 2006. The following gives some basic background information to the debate and offers four ways in which you can respond to the consultation in England.

Background: European legislation gives Member States the power to introduce ‘coexistence’ measures to control GM contamination of conventional and organic crops. They may “take appropriate measures to avoid the unintended presence of GMOs in other products”. (Article 26a of Directive 2001/18/EC)

Whether you call it Frankenstein Food, unnatural science, or ‘Bioengineering’ it means the same thing and generates one logical conclusion – more research needs to be done in this area before we should simply accept GM food into our food chain. The word ‘Bioengineering’ is difficult to stomach in its own right as it carries two opposing presumptions – the word “bio” translates as ‘life’ and thus when we bolt on the word engineering we have created the impression we can scientifically alter something alive and unpredictable.

To get you started thinking about the issue, below are ten major flaws in the consultation:

GM contamination will become routine
Proposed separation distances between GM and non-GM crops are inadequate
Voluntary measures are insufficient – for instance, no separation distances are proposed for beet and potatoes and the control of contamination will come through a voluntary separation approach
Organic farming is brought under threat
Liability for damage is weak
GM public register all but dismissed
No protection for honey producers
Gardeners and allotments holders are left in the dark and at risk of contamination
Environmental issues are neglected
Voluntary GM-free zones not good enough
Further information can be found at
www.stopgmcontamination.org

If you or your organisation feel as we do about GM coexistence then there are a few simple things you can do to help us modify their implementation plans. You could:

Respond to the consultation – It affects you so make your voice heard. Follow this link to an easy step-by-step guide which will give you some simple advice on what to say, who to say it to and how to say it:

http://community.foe.co.uk/contamination

Spread the word – there are a number of suggested best methods here:
We’ve got the ball rolling by producing a leaflet and distributing copies at local events but there will always be people who don’t know. Contact us at http://community.foe.co.uk/contamination and grab yourself a handful of ‘GM free meat and two veg’ leaflets to distribute.
You could also write to the local press. If you’d like some advice on letter writing go to: http://community.foe.co.uk/resource/how_tos/
cyw_ 60_letter_in_paper.pdf
Send out emails to friends and family and raise awareness of the issue and the tight timescale
Consult with your local authority and find out their policy. Ask whether they’ve considered the local implications.
Lobby your MP
There are still MPs who will not know about this consultation and there are those who do know but believe it’s a technical issue and might not feel they can take a position. So, simply write to your MP and outline the 10 major flaws. Then ask them to do two things:

Sign Early Day Motion 396

Write to the Minister – David Miliband, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affair

2. Join us in London on 19 October – if you want to join us to mark the end of the consultation period then contact Richard Hines richh@foe.co.uk or call 0113 242 8153

Action 2003/4: GM-Free Bristol

Say NO to GM contamination and help us modify the Government’s attitude to ‘coexistence’

There is a consultation underway with a deadline of 20 October 2006.  The following gives some basic background information to the debate and offers four ways in which you can respond to the consultation in England.

Background: European legislation gives Member States the power to introduce ‘coexistence’ measures to control GM contamination of conventional and organic crops.  They may “take appropriate measures to avoid the unintended presence of GMOs in other products”. (Article 26a of Directive 2001/18/EC)

Whether you call it Frankenstein Food, unnatural science, or ‘Bioengineering’ it means the same thing and generates one logical conclusion – more research needs to be done in this area before we should simply accept GM food into our food chain.  The word ‘Bioengineering’ is difficult to stomach in its own right as it carries two opposing presumptions – the word “bio” translates as ‘life’ and thus when we bolt on the word engineering we have created the impression we can scientifically alter something alive and unpredictable.

To get you started thinking about the issue, below are ten major flaws in the consultation:

  1. GM contamination will become routine
  2. Proposed separation distances between GM and non-GM crops are inadequate
  3. Voluntary measures are insufficient – for instance, no separation distances are proposed for beet and potatoes and the control of contamination will come through a voluntary separation approach
  4. Organic farming is brought under threat
  5. Liability for damage is weak
  6. GM public register all but dismissed
  7. No protection for honey producers
  8. Gardeners and allotments holders are left in the dark and at risk of contamination
  9. Environmental issues are neglected
  10. Voluntary GM-free zones not good enough

Further information can be found at
www.stopgmcontamination.org

If you or your organisation feel as we do about GM coexistence then there are a few simple things you can do to help us modify their implementation plans.  You could:

Respond to the consultation – It affects you so make your voice heard.  Follow this link to an easy step-by-step guide which will give you some simple advice on what to say, who to say it to and how to say it:

http://community.foe.co.uk/contamination

  1. Spread the word – there are a number of suggested best methods here:
  • We’ve got the ball rolling by producing a leaflet and distributing copies at local events but there will always be people who don’t know.  Contact us at http://community.foe.co.uk/contamination and grab yourself a handful of ‘GM free meat and two veg’ leaflets to distribute. 
  • You could also write to the local press.  If you’d like some advice on letter writing go to: http://community.foe.co.uk/resource/how_tos/
    cyw_ 60_letter_in_paper.pdf
  • Send out emails to friends and family and raise awareness of the issue and the tight timescale
  • Consult with your local authority and find out their policy.  Ask whether they’ve considered the local implications.
  1. Lobby your MP

There are still MPs who will not know about this consultation and there are those who do know but believe it’s a technical issue and might not feel they can take a position.  So, simply write to your MP and outline the 10 major flaws.  Then ask them to do two things:

Sign Early Day Motion 396

Write to the Minister – David Miliband, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affair

2. Join us in London on 19 October – if you want to join us to mark the end of the consultation period then contact Richard Hines richh@foe.co.uk or call 0113 242 8153

Previous To That

The GM campaign was (re)launched in April 2003, as part of a national Friends of the Earth day of action, and timed to coincide with the run-up to the Council election.

We held initial stalls outside the Southville Deli and the Watershed, and amassed 200 signed postcards, demanding that the City Council declare a GM-free zone.

We held further stalls at the Tomorrow’s Homes fair in the Create Centre, the Farmers’ Market, St Werburghs City Farm’s summer fair, and at the end of the Bristol Cycle Ride. Individuals circulated petitions, and Bristol South Green Party organised a street survey of Southville, where 75% of respondents declared their support for the GM-free zone.

On 15 July the Council organised a public debate as part of the national GM consultation. Arranged in response to criticism from Bristol Greenpeace, this was an invitation-only affair, held mid afternoon – hardly the open public forum which had been called for. However, the strong opinions expressed at the meeting gave Dennis Brown, Lib Dem Councillor for Henleaze who had expressed an early interest in taking our motion to the Council, impetus to move things forward.

With repeated lobbying, the number of Councillors who had declared their support, grew to a majority. Finally on 9 September, the motion went to a full Council meeting. At the start of the meeting, Mike Birkin presented our postcards and petitions, representing the support of 750 Bristol people, and at the end of what was, by all accounts, an exceedingly tedious evening, the motion came up, and was passed unopposed.

Full text of Bristol City Council motion, 9th September 2003

This Council recognises that:

genetic modification of crop plants is a rapidly advancing new branch of science and technology;

the recent Government report shows that there is still scientific debate about the safety of GM crops;

the commercial growing of GM crops present, legal, social and ethical problems that have not yet been properly addressed;

there is widespread public concern about GM products and many people are concerned that there is a risk that they might be unwittingly exposed to them.

The Council therefore declares that the City of Bristol will, as far as is possible, control the growth of GM crops and the use of GM food and feed. This Council therefore commits to:

providing GM-free goods and services for all areas where the Council has a direct responsibility;

considering each prospective GMO Marketing Consent and, where appropriate, writing to both the Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs and the European Commission requesting that a condition under Article 19(3)(c) of 2001/18/EC be added to such marketing consent so as to exempt Bristol City Council from the scope of such consent;

ensuring that no GM crops are grown on land over which it has control;

declare Bristol City Council to be a GM-Free Zone;

charging an appropriate body of councillors with the duty of monitoring and keeping under review the implementation of these commitments.

Once the Council motion was passed, we admittedly sat back a bit, having achieved our original goal.

Friends of the Earth South West manned a well-received stall at the Organic Festival in September 2004, and Bristol Friends of the Earth took part in the second national day of action in October, with our scary GM scarecrow.