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.
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."
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,"
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."
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."
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."
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.
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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