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5 Face Trial over Sainsbury’s GM-Fed Milk:
Children could be at risk, claim protesters
6 October 2005
Genetic Engineering Network
5 people arrested for trying to stop the distribution of Sainsbury’s GM-fed milk will go on trial next week at Avon Magistrates Court (Yate, near Bristol). Teresa Anderson, James Brown, Nathalie Chow, Natasha Machin and Elizabeth Snook from the Genetic Engineering Network are charged with Aggravated Trespass and face a maximum 3-month jail sentence, after blockading Sainsbury’s Bristol distribution depot for South West England in February this year. The trial will be held on the 10th-12th October.
They were preventing Sainsbury’s milk from animals fed on GMOs from being distributed. This GM-fed milk is unlabelled and has never been tested for health safety. The issue is of growing concern to the public, who have long been unaware that GMOs remain in their food chain, despite the supermarket’s claim to be GM-Free.
The protesters particularly highlight the risk to children’s health over GM-fed milk. “If there is an accepted need for precaution over GM foods, it is not good science to assume that the risks do not also apply to GM-fed milk.” Says Teresa Anderson, one of the defendants. “Children, with their greater reliance on milk for their nutrition, are going to be more vulnerable to any risks from GM-fed milk, than adults.”
“It’s outrageous that supermarkets like Sainsbury’s are willing to put kids like my son at risk.” Says Tushi van Perlo, a supporter of the defendants and mother to Charlie, 7. “It's Sainsbury's who should be on trial here. For 6 years they've failed to deliver on their promise to stop feeding their cattle GM crops. In the meantime, GM imports used for feed have been contaminated by illegal and potentially dangerous GM varieties such as Bt-10.”
Liz Snook, another defendant adds "I've met with senior Sainsbury's Directors while a respected scientist explained the potential dangers of GM-fed milk, yet the company is still failing to protect their customers or even warn them via labeling. In the face of the immediate and continuing threat to the public from these products I felt it was my duty to peacefully protest."
Supporters from across the West Country plan to converge outside Avon Magistrate’s court on the 10th October with street theatre demonstrating how GM passes into the food chain courtesy of Sainsbury’s, and spelling NO GM MILK with their bodies outside the courthouse at 9.30 am.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1) The Trial will be held from Monday the 10th until Wednesday the 12th October 2005 at Avon Magistrates’ Court, Yate, near Bristol. They face a magistrate court on charges of Aggravated Trespass.
2) Street theatre (including a Damian-Hurst-style see-through cow banner) will show Sainsbury’s role in exposing children to the risks of GM-fed milk. Demonstrations of support for the protesters, and other photo opportunities will take place on the morning of Monday the 10th, at 9.30 am.
3) The 5 defendants carried out the blockade and were arrested in the early hours of Saturday the 26th of February this year, as they blockaded the entrance to Sainsbury’s South West Depot in Bristol. They prevented Sainsbury’s lorries from distributing GM-fed milk, meat and other supplies to the South West for much of that day. They lay on the ground for 4 hours with their arms locked in metal tubes in sub-zero temperatures, during the record-breaking coldest week in years. The protesters took action in solidarity with the Fair Price for GM-Free Milk Coalition, an alliance of environmentalists, farmers and scientists who are keen to persuade Sainsbury’s to take the lead in using non-GM feed for their dairy, and paying their farmers a decent price per litre.
4) This case follows the recent acquittal by a jury of 13 Greenpeace protesters, who were unanimously found not guilty of Causing a Public Nuisance after preventing a shipment of imported GM maize destined for animal feed from entering Cardiff Docks.
5) No independent feeding studies have been carried out to study the health impacts of GM-fed milk on children, adults or animals.
6) Both the Co-op and Marks and Spencer’s have already ensured that their milk and dairy products are from cows fed non-GM feed.
7) While the Food Standards Agency (FSA) claims that there are no risks from GM-fed milk, an independent Review of the agency carried out by Baroness Dean strongly criticized the FSA for its unfounded pro-GM bias. Blanket reassurances by the FSA on GMOs and GM-fed milk must therefore be seen in this light.