Supermarkets targeted in non-GM drive


10 February 2021
Supermarkets targeted in non-GM drive

UK growers and suppliers are amongst those who've added their names to an open letter to British supermarkets asking them to refuse to stock foods produced from unregulated and unlabelled gene-edited crops.

The letter, organised by Beyond GM and Slow Food in the UK, comes in the midst of a 10-week public consultation on government plans to remove regulatory controls, including consumer labelling, from plants and animals created usingnew and experimental genetic engineering technology.
Signatories to the joint letter include the Soil Association, Landworkers’ Alliance, Students for Sustainability, Green Christian and Professor Emeritus of Food Policy at City University, Tim Lang. 
Unlabelled GMOs are unlawful in the EU and, since Brexit, retailers have been experiencing difficulties with dual regulations in their Northern Ireland stores. 
Gene-edited plants are aimed at increasing yields, reducing pesticide use and helping fight climate change, but campaigners claim say the technology has failed to properly address these issues over the past 20 years.
Currently the UK is bound by the same robust regulations on genetically engineered crops and foods as the EU. This regulation was strengthened by the European Court of Justice in 2018. The UK government is seeking to overturn this decision, to alter the definition of GMOs to exclude the plants and animals created using gene editing and to remove regulations that would require essential safety checks, monitoring and labelling.
Pat Thomas, Director of Beyond GM, an organisation dedicated to raising the level of the debate on agricultural GMOs comments: “The spectre of genetically engineered crops and animals raises inevitable concerns. Not just for human health and the environment but around ethics, societal values, consumer choice, the practicalities of business in post-Brexit Britain and transparency throughout the food chain. In its haste to deregulate, government is ignoring these complexities. Now more than ever it’s important that influential businesses such as supermarkets demonstrate foresight, leadership and loyalty to their customers by supporting robust regulation.”
Shane Holland, Executive Chairman of Slow Food in the UK, an organisation dedicated to promoting more sustainable and community-orientated approaches to the food supply chain states: “The majority of consumers are clear that they don’t want genetically engineered plants and animals on the supermarket shelves. We are asking stores to respect those wishes and instead concentrate on high quality, high welfare food for which our nation can be proud.”


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