Ministers abandon Food Standards GM project

A GM project co-ordinated by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) discussing consumers' views of the risks and benefits of GM has been stopped.

The FSA planned to spend half a million pounds on a public engagement exercise about GM food and all details of the government's policy on the use of GM technology in food and agriculture was still being determined.

But University and Science Minister David Willetts commented: "The GM dialogue project will not continue in its current format. "Instead we are taking this valuable opportunity to step back and review past dialogues on GM and other areas of science to ensure we understand how best to engage the public over such issues."

Two scientists, Professor Brian Wynne and Dr Helen Wallace, resigned from the project steering group, claiming the project rigged towards attempting to encourage the public to support GM food and in favour of GM industry.

Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director said: "The last Government tried persistently to pedal GM food to a sceptical public. It was outrageous that the FSA allowed themselves to be used to try and push GM food on the British people, and in doing so they once again departed from what is meant to be their role of defending the interests of consumers.

"The Government’s decision proves they are willing to let people decide what they eat, rather than trying to foist GM upon them.

"There are two more things the Government should do. First, stop wasting public money on GM research – £20 million of tax payers money has gone into GM crop research since 1997, but not a single GM crop is being grown in this country.

"Second, the Government should tell the Food Standards Agency to take steps to remove the blanket of secrecy over the last hiding place of GM from our food system, by insisting that milk and other dairy products, and meat, that come from animals fed on GM food, are clearly labelled."

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