Big Ag Lobbyists Wrote UK Government's Report on GM Foods


Agribusiness lobbyists took an active role in writing a U.K. government report on genetically modified (GM) foods, two former members of the Food Standards Agency's (FSA's) steering group have revealed.

Dr. Helen Wallace of Genewatch U.K. and Professor Brian Wynne both resigned recently in protest of what Wynne calls a "dogmatically entrenched" pro-GM attitude at the FSA, whose head recently accused GM critics of being "anti-science."

Leaked emails between the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC) and then-FSA head of novel foods Clair Baynton "expose how the Food Standards Agency is acting as a puppet of the GM industry, by colluding with foreign GM companies to undermine people's access to GM-free food supplies in Britain," Wallace said.

The furor concerns an FSA report on the channels through which GM products are entering the United Kingdom, where cultivation of such crops is banned. In the first email, Baynton forwarded the draft report to the ABC, saying, "I am happy to discuss ... if that would be helpful."

The council responded with a series of suggested changes, several of which the FSA adopted. The changes led to the report stating that a continued ban on GM products could lead to rising food prices and that the ubiquity of GM foods worldwide makes their adoption by the European Union "inevitable." The FSA also adopted the council's language acknowledging soy, a major GM crop, as "the most cost-effective method of supplementing animal feed."

Baynton later wrote back to the council asking for evidence of the prevalence of GM food products "either authorized or being considered for authorization in Argentina, Brazil and the US."

Following the report's release, the FSA and the ABC began planning a "public engagement exercise" to promote GM foods. The exercise has been widely condemned as rigged, and the revelations over prior collusion between the agency and the council have only heightened this controversy.

"The report fails to represent the vast majority of GM-free farmers, who will have to pay a heavy price if their crops or seed are allowed to become contaminated with GM crops or seed," Wallace said.


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