Following "disappointing" quarterly results and
a drop in share price Monsanto have decided to pull out of Europe. Take
up of their hybrid wheat seeds has been a lot less than they projected
so their buggering off and running away - byeeee! Missing you already.
The company is now looking for a buyer for all or part of it's cereal seed business so if you got some spare change why not give 'em a ring?
In an article in Natural Products magazine Craig Sams [President of Green
& Blacks and chair of the Soil Association] writes about the somewhat
spiteful attacks made against him personally on the pro-GMO website AgBioView.
It transpires that the two individuals concerned, Andura Smetacek and
Mary Murphy, were actually the invention of Bivings PR.
Guess who Bivings PR represents? No prizes for the right answer cos it's not a surprise is it?
The following statement, based on existing GFA policies, was submitted on 1st March 2001
Customers are aware that a wide range of concerns have been raised
within the scientific community about the safety of GM foods and that
these continue to be debated.
They are concerned that there appears to be no independent, published and peer-reviewed research data in the public arena - such as the results of long-term feeding experiments - to substantiate claims that GM foods have been proven to be safe.
This deficiency of published evidence extends not only to foods containing modified DNA but also to DNA-free derivatives of crops whose biochemistry may have been modified through genetic modification - and to products of animals raised on such crops. In such circumstances customers are acting rationally in avoiding all foods derived from GM ingredients or raised on GM feedstuffs until such information is available to them.
Consumers do not want an agreed threshold of untested contaminants in their food - they want reassurance that everything reasonable has been done to avoid all such contamination.
Manufacturers, Wholesalers and Retailers have a responsibility to exercise
due diligence and, in accordance with the precautionary principle must
therefore avoid selling products that they do not know to be safe.
They are also obliged by market forces to avoid the use of ingredients that will render their products unsellable as a result of consumer concern. GFA's members are therefore committed - in the interest of both commercial survival and responsibility to consumers - to avoiding to the best of their ability the purchase or sale of any foods that may contain GM ingredients, derivatives of GM crops or products of GM-fed animals. Where guarantees to this effect cannot be obtained members are obliged to delist the products concerned. We support the call for a Five Year Freeze on all GM food and crops to provide time for proper independent long-term safety tests to be carried out, peer-reviewed and published.
Fulfilling these obligations has involved our members - as well as many other companies - in considerable expenditure in terms of time, paperwork and money. In many cases manufacturers have had to carry out regular and expensive DNA tests on products. Full compensation is due from those responsible for these losses.
GFA, in accordance with the clear wish of customers, has lobbied for
the labelling of GM ingredients to be extended to derivatives of GM
crops and to the products of GM-fed animals.
However, manufacturers are placed in an invidious position when the ingredients, derivatives and animal products they purchase do not have to be labelled in this manner and so have to be tested in laboratories at the manufacturers expense.
Such tests do not, in any case, reveal the presence of derivatives of GM crops or products of GM-fed animals. Obliging manufacturers to carry out hundreds of expensive tests will simply result in bankruptcy for small, community-based businesses.
Manufacturers should, instead of meeting thresholds, be expected to exercise due diligence by obtaining GM-free ingredients, by avoiding accidental contamination of their products and, to the best of their ability, by attempting to reduce the level of GM materials to zero.
Such a system, unlike a threshold system, could continue to be valuable and effective even if irresponsible government policies - such as the uncontained testing of unwanted GM crops - increase the background level of GM contamination in the environment.
To this end, it is the importers and growers of primary ingredients,
including those destined for use in animal feed, who must be obliged
to test and label these products and to provide documentation to ensure
that they are traceable to source.
Thresholds should apply to raw materials at the point of import into the EU and not to finished products. This would reduce the cost and quantity of administration and testing required and ensure that all costs were borne by the exporting nations and transnational corporations responsible for the problem and not by intermediate or ultimate consumers who are the victim of such contamination.
Under such a regime all a small food manufacturer in the UK would be required to do would be to obtain traceability and GM-free documents for all ingredients at the time of purchase.
We are calling on the government to implement a three
year moratorium on the importation, growing or use of genetically modified
organisms in food.
We are calling for a three year moratorium to allow for further safety tests to be conducted and to allow time for real public consultation, discussion, debate and decision making.
- English Nature,
- The Countryside Council for Wales,
- Scottish Natural Heritage
- and the Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service
have called on ministers to introduce a three year ban on growing GM crops in Britain because of fears of widespread destruction of native birds and insects and the creation of aggressive mutant hybrid weeds.
We further note that;
The present government research at MAFF and DoE will not be completed until 2000 and this means that the government should delay granting licenses for crops to be grown in this country until this time.
We go further than just calling for a moratorium on growing genetically
modified[GM] crops in Britain, we are calling for a halt to the importation
and use of GM foods as well.
The evidence we have seen is enough to convince us that the current introduction of GM foods is driven too far too fast by purely commercial interests and has the potential for serious long term threats to human health and the environment and that a moratorium until adequate safety tests have been conducted is essential.
In light of the current situation we are re-iterating our policy on labelling and segregation:
We are calling for compulsory labelling of all foods in which genetically
modified organisms [GMO's] have played any part in their development
For example, as a major or minor ingredient, or as a step in the production process of any product or ingredient.
The many people who do not want to buy GM food for a whole variety of reasons, must be able to know what they are eating.
We are calling for legislation which ensures that all crops in which
GMO's have played any part what-so-ever are kept segregated from normal
To allow GMO crops, such as soya, to become mixed with conventional crops means contaminating the whole crop in the eyes of the substantial number of European citizens who are opposed to the irresponsible introduction of genetically manipulated foods.
We will actively promote organic as the preferred option to genetix agriculture and will highlight the need to protect the integrity of organic produce from attempts in the US to allow GMO crops to be certified as organically grown.