Rules on GM produce to be reviewed
A recent investigation by the Soil Association has shown these anecdotes to be misrepresentative of the true situation. Supplies of non-GM feed are abundant and can expand to fit market demand - for example there is enough non-GM soya available in Brazil to supply the UK six times over.
Given the growing number of scientific studies that are finding serious health impacts from GMO consumption in animals, it is important that EU regulation on GM feed is not diluted even further at the risk of the consumer.
COMMENT from GM Watch: It would be interesting to know if Kath Dalmeny of the charity Sustain really did say that GM crops could help increase food production, as we have yet to see any credible evidence to support such a claim - something the IAASTD report, whose findings were recently accepted by the UK Government, confirmed.
Rules on GM produce to be reviewed
Jim Pickard and Jenny Wiggins
The Financial Times, July 7 2008
The Food Standards Agency is to review how it regulates the marketing and labelling of genetically modified produce, after a government paper on food policy on Monday highlighted the difficulties of sourcing non-GM animal feed. The paper said the UK risked importing feed wrongly labelled as non-GM if prices kept rising.
Farmers are battling to meet supermarket requirements to feed some animals, including chickens, non-GM grains, as prices remain near record highs.
The FSA said it would work with the environment department (Defra) to examine how market changes were straining the regulatory system for GM products. Food sold in the UK containing products of genetically modified organisms must be labelled, but meat, milk and eggs from animals given GM feed are not subject to such a requirement.
The government has long lobbied the EU to improve the regulatory regime for GM products and wants decisions on the import of GM foodstocks to be quicker.
The EU has approved only one GM crop for commercial production in 10 years, amid concerns about the environmental consequences. EU members have struggled to agree a coherent policy, given that some countries, including France, Greece and Poland, have total bans on GM cultivation.
Sir David King, the government's former chief scientific adviser, argued in the Financial Times on Monday that GM crops were needed around the world, given changing diets, global warming and the pressure on fresh water supplies.
However, Kath Dalmeny, policy director of the food and farming charity Sustain, said that while GM crops could help increase food production, they were not a "magic bullet".
Monday's food paper, from Defra and the Cabinet Office, addressed everything from the impact of biofuels on food pricing to household food waste and farm subsidies but failed to lay out a new policy framework.
It said there should be a new scheme for the public sector to provide more healthy, environmentally sustainable food. But it pointed out the many dilemmas facing ministers, for example the fact that intensive farming which is often condemned on welfare grounds consumes less energy.
Gordon Brown urged families, who each throw away an estimated £420 of food every year, or a third of purchases, to think before buying unnecessary goods.
Defra said it would shortly publish a separate report into UK food security. It has also commissioned John Beddington, chief scientific adviser, to commission a new project looking at future global food production and farming.