GeneWatch UK puts Food Standards Agency on notice that it must maintain its duty to consumers
GeneWatch UK has written a letter to Prof Susan Jebb, chair of the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA), about the Westminster government's Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill, warning her that the agency has a duty to maintain high standards of food and feed safety in the UK and that the Bill as it stands falls far short of those standards.
The letter states, "We note that the Bill includes provisions that may or may not provide traceability for exempt GMOs (those defined as Precision Bred Organisms, PBOs) in the food chain and may or may not require adverse effects on human and animal health and the environment to be avoided. We also note that the Bill does not require exempt GMOs to be labelled."
GeneWatch UK reminds Prof Jebb that:
* Traceability and labelling are essential to allow GM-free products (including organic products) to continue to be sold, and to allow UK food and feed products to be traded with countries where GMOs that are exempt under the Bill continue to be regulated. Failure to ensure traceability could lead to massive costs to farmers, food manufacturers and retailers if products are rejected by consumers, manufacturers, traders, importers, or retailers when the presence of unauthorised GMOs cannot be guaranteed.
* Traceability and labelling are also essential for imported products, which could contain exempt GMOs and end up in untraceable or unlabelled products that might also be exported on to other countries.
* Traceability and labelling are essential to allow consumer choice and maintain consumer trust in the food chain.
* Traceability and labelling are essential to allow products to be withdrawn if anything goes wrong.
* Health and environmental risk assessments are also essential to protect human health and the environment.
The letter concludes, "If the FSA is to maintain its stated commitments to consumers, and trust in the food chain, it is essential that all GMOs (including so-called PBOs) are labelled and that traceability and risk assessments (for the environment and health) are mandatory."