SUPERMARKETS CAMPAIGN -- MODEL LETTER
Last week we published an urgent call for letter writing to UK supermarkets to reinforce the level of public concern over GM foods.
Some subscribers suggested a model letter would be very useful, so see the one below. Obviously, it's important for maximum impact to still make your letter as personal as possible.
Please send your letters to each of the supermarkets listed - addresses below the model letter.
I am writing to express my support for the concerns about GM raised by Prince Charles. I think he has made some very important points about the scale of the threat. He, and many leading scientists, have also expressed concerns over many years about the safety of GM foods and the lack of proper studies, and my family and I definitely don't want to eat them.
I'm therefore writing to ask you for confirmation that you will continue to enforce the strong stand that ........ [insert name of supermarket that you are writing to e.g. Sainsbury's] has taken over nearly a decade now to protect us all from the dangers of GM foods by excluding them from your own brand products.
I would also ask you to require that your suppliers of meat, milk, eggs etc. feed their livestock only non-GM feed. Then I can continue to shop for my family from your stores with confidence, knowing that we are not inadvertently eating GM foods.
I look forward to hearing from you.
[You may also like to add points from the fact sheet below]
Great Wilson Street
Leeds LS11 5AD
The Co-operative Group
New Century House
The Chief Executive
Iceland Foods Limited
Deeside Industrial Park
Marks & Spencer
Chester Business Park
Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd
Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc
Evidence of Risk from GM Crops
There is now a worrying body of published, peer-reviewed scientific evidence from controlled animal studies carried out in many countries and by different parties (government, academic, independent and company studies) that demonstrates that GMOs cause a wide range of serious unexpected physiological changes with as yet unknown health impacts. The studies are summarised in a Soil Association report (ref 1).
Effects found in animals included stunted growth, smaller organs, gut lesions, cellular changes in the liver, pancreas and testes, toxic effects to the liver and kidney systems and allergic reactions (1).
There have been concrete examples of GMOs having been toxic, allergenic and having reduced nutritional value. Please see examples below.
GM food supplement kills 100 people, sickens 5,000-10,000
In the late 1980s, a food supplement made with GM bacteria killed 100 Americans and caused 5,000-10,000 to fall sick. The GM-produced supplement caused an epidemic of a new disease, which was named eosinophilia myalgia syndrome (EMS). All cases were traced to l-tryptophan made by one manufacturer, a Japanese company called Show Denko. People who had taken l-tryptophan made by other companies were unaffected. Showa Denko’s l-tryptophan was found to contain five or six unique contaminants, one or more of which was likely to be the cause. Showa Denko was the only company that had started to produce the supplement using GM bacteria.
Eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome and tryptophan production: a cautionary tale. Mayeno, A.N., Gleich, G.J. Tibtech, 12, 346-352, 1994
Gene from brazil nut carried allergens into soyabeans
Scientists from Pioneer Hi-Bred International inserted a gene from Brazil nuts, a known allergenic food, into soyabeans to enhance their nutritional quality. The transferred gene created a protein rich in the amino acid methionine, an essential amino acid essential. The resulting GM soyabeans caused allergic reactions in people allergic to Brazil nuts and was withdrawn prior to commercialisation. (Nordlee, J.E., et al., “Identification of a Brazil-nut allergen in transgenic soybeans”, N. Engl. J. Med., Vol. 334, 1996, pp. 688 92)
While this case has been touted by GM promoters as an example of how the regulatory protocol works in preventing consumers from being exposed to dangers from GM foods, it is nothing of the sort. No GM regulatory system in the world demands such allergy testing before a GM food is released.
GM soya has reduced nutritional value
A study shows that Roundup Ready soya has 12 14% less of the cancer-fighting isoflavones touted by the USDA as one of the benefits of eating soya. The levels in GM soya were also more variable as compared with non-GM soya. (Lappé, M.A. et al., "Alterations in clinically important phytoestrogens in genetically modified, herbicide-tolerant soybeans", Journal of Medicinal Food, Vol. 1, No. 4, July 1999)
(1) The Soil Association report which summarises the various studies is available at: http://www.soilassociation.org/Web/SA/saweb.nsf/cfff6730b881e40e80256a6a002a765c/62b3b08dfb6cdaea80256a9500473789/$FILE/gm_health_effects.pdf
You may need to copy and paste the link if clicking on it doesn't work
GM NOT HELPING TO FEED THE WORLD
The fact that GM does not increase crop yields was recognized in a recent report from the United Nations International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). Authored by 400 scientists and backed by 60 governments, the report found no conclusive evidence that GM crops increase yields. In fact, the scientists were so unconvinced about the role of GM crops in meeting future food needs that the pro-GM US Government refused to endorse the report, and the biotechnology industry pulled out of the process, despite having provided substantial funding at the outset. (IAASTD report, published 15 April 2008, London)
No increased yields have been recorded for GM herbicide tolerant soybeans, maize and cotton, even by analysts who are highly in favour of the technology (Brookes, G & Barfoot, P (2005) GM crops the global economic and environmental impact the first nine years. AgBioForum 8:187-196.)
GM seeds are patented, so seed saving for the following year is forbidden. Farmers in the developing world depend on farmer-saved seed and not being able to continue this traditional practice threatens their food security. Many farmers who are alleged to have saved patented GM seeds have been sued. Even farmers experiencing accidental contamination of their crops have been sued.
GM crops have led to increased use of highly potent broad spectrum herbicides and pesticides despite claims from biotech companies that their crops reduce the use of such chemicals.(3,4) Weeds and pests more resistant to herbicides (4) and pesticides (5) have appeared.
Rapid expansion of GM soya cultivation in Argentina, has been accompanied by extensive use of mixtures of powerful herbicides to deal with resistant weeds with consequent animal and human health problems, soil erosion and a reduction in the number of family farms.(6)
Increased herbicide use
The emergence of herbicide resistance in weeds has threatened the long-term weed control effectiveness of the technology. (Owen, MDK, & Zelaya, IA. (2005) Herbicide-resistant crops and weed resistance to herbicides. Pest Management Science 61:301 311.)
The planting of 550 million acres of GM maize, soya and cotton in the US since 1996 has increased the amount of pesticide used by about 22.5 million kg, according to a study published in 2003 by the Northwest Science and Environmental Policy Centre. (Genetically Engineered Crops Now Increasing Pesticide Use in the United States. Press Release from the Northwest Science and Environmental Policy Centre (US). 25 November 2003.) http://www.biotechinfo.net/highlights.html#technical_papers
Reasons for this are that farmers have had to spray progressively more herbicides on GM crops in order to keep up with shifts in weeds towards tougher-to-control species, coupled with the emergence of genetic resistance in certain weed populations. http://www.biotech-info.net/technicalpaper6.html
A survey showed that since the introduction of glyphosate (Roundup) resistant GM crops, numerous new resistant weed species have evolved that would need more potent herbicide mixtures to control. (Nandula VK et al. GLYPHOSATE-RESISTANT WEEDS: CURRENT STATUS AND FUTURE OUTLOOK. Outlooks on Pest Management August 2005 183-187.
references sourced from) http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2007/FoEE_biotech_MTR_midlifecrisis_March07.pdf
Increased pesticide use
A survey by the Maharashtra Government, India, in 2003, showed that initial economic benefits, in terms of savings in insecticide use, have shown to dissolve as pests' tolerance to the insecticide increased and additional insecticide-use was required. Chinese farmers have had the same experience.
(Performance of Bt. Cotton Cultivation in Maharashtra. Report of State Department of Agriculture, 2003) http://www.envfor.nic.in/divisions/csurv/btcotton/srmh.htm.
Wang S., Just DR & Pinstrup-Andersen P (2006) Tarnishing Silver bullets: Bt technology adoption, bounded rationality and the outbreak of secondary pest infestations in China. Paper presented at the American Agricultural Economics Association Meeting, Long Beach CA, July 22-26, 2006. http://www.grain.org/research_files/SWang_tarnished.pdf
The biotech industry has also claimed reduction in insecticide usage, up to 15%, for bollworm resistant GM cotton. However, farmers have had to modify their pest management since other pests, previously controlled by broad-spectrum insecticide programmes used on conventional cotton, have become more problematic in GM cotton. Additionally, the bollworm itself is slowly developing resistance to the insecticide, causing additional applications of the pesticide to become necessary. (Policy Department Structural and Cohesion Policies of the European Parliament, (2006). Biotechnology in the EU Agriculture: Perspectives and Challenges, IP/B/AGRI/IC/2006_057.)
Only one GM crop is grown in the European Union, Monsanto's Bt maize (MON810), which is genetically modified to produce a "built-in" insecticide. France has announced a ban on the maize for health and environmental reasons.
references sourced from : http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2007/FoEE_biotech_MTR_midlifecrisis_March07.pdf
Evidence of environmental degradation in Argentina
Argentina's bitter harvest, New Scientist, 17 April 2004
The article says ".... as others, including the UK, seem increasingly prepared to authorise the commercial growing of GM crops, they may be well advised to look to Argentina to see how it can go wrong."