Press Notice 3rd February 2006
In a dramatic new development that could have lethal consequences for the GM industry worldwide, the European Commission has admitted that GM foods bring no benefits whatsoever to those who buy them and eat them (1).
Watchdog organization GM Free Cymru has been pressing the Commission for many months for answers to a simple series of questions, including the following: "How will GM foods enhance food safety? How will they enhance the quality, taste and nutritional character of food? How will they enhance public health? How will they hold food prices down? How will they help to create a "healthy living environment"?
Since these matters are the responsibility of Markos Kyprianou (Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection) GM Free Cymru has been pressing him for answers to these questions. After much prompting in the autumn of 2005, it has now received his carefully considered reply, which fails to produce a positive response to any of the questions posed (2). This is a tacit admission that no benefits have been identified.
GM Free Cymru spokesman Dr Brian John says: "This is dynamite. It means that the Commissioner who has access to all of the Commission research on GM crops and foods, having been given the opportunity to itemise the benefits that they might bring to the consumer, cannot find a single reason why we should buy them or eat them. So after ten years or more of pro-GM marketing by the Commission and the GM industry, after a prolonged and acrimonious debate about GM food within Europe, and after the expenditure of many millions of euros on GM research and GM legislation, the Commission cannot find a single positive attribute which might encourage us to put GM food on our plates. The incompetence and waste of public funds is mind-boggling."
The EC justifies its support for GM crops and foods on the grounds that it is "facilitating customer choice". However, in correspondence with other Commissioners, including trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, GM Free Cymru has also asked for evidence that there is an identifiable demand for GM foods among consumers (3). No such evidence has been forthcoming, and the best the Commission can do is to cite evidence from opinion polls and public attitude surveys to demonstrate that a minority of consumers are apathetic about GM foods or might consume them if they are convinced that they are safe (4). "That is a long way from demonstrating that some people actually want GM foods," says Dr John.
GM Free Cymru alleges that the Commission is involved in a conspiracy with the GM industry to force-feed European consumers with GM foods and food components, in spite of the fact that nobody wants to eat them and in spite of the fact that they bring absolutely no benefits in terms of cost, nutrition, taste, or health. "On the contrary," says Dr John, "evidence is already in the public domain which shows that some, if not all, GM foods are unsafe (5), and that their production involves measurable environmental damage (6). Labelling legislation will not protect consumers. GM crops and foods cannot be contained or controlled, and the GM industry is determined to contaminate the whole of the food supply in pursuit of its commercial aspirations (7). This has already happened in the USA. The Commission knows this, and yet it still connives with the multinationals, wilfully and systematically seeking to suppress "uncomfortable" evidence, and directly placing at risk the health of EU consumers (8).
"We therefore charge the EC with a failure to recognize the human rights of EU consumers, with a failure to recognize its own duty of care with respect to public health, and with the abandonment of the precautionary principle which is enshrined in its own GM legislation. This adds up to criminal negligence, and it is high time that the Commission was called to account by the EU Parliament."
(1) Letter from Commissioner Kyprianu to GM Free Cymru, undated, in response to communications from GM Free Cymru on 3rd October 2005 and 3rd November 2005.
(2) Since the Commissioner refused to answer the questions posed, GM Free Cymru wrote to him and posed the questions again, on 21st January. The letter has not even been acknowledged, and the matter has now been placed with the European Ombudsman.
(3) Correspondence with Commissioner Mandelson on 3rd October and 18th October
has also failed to elicit replies to questions posed, and in view of the breach
of Commission rules a complaint has now been entered with the European Ombudsman.
To quote from the FoE publication "Who benefits from GM Crops?":
" The European feed industry stated in 2005 that there is “no direct advantage from the presence of residues of herbicide resistant genes in the products they buy. The industry is therefore not prepared to pay for the use of this technology.” GM products also do not offer advantages to consumers, as they are neither cheaper nor better quality. Even the French biotech industry has stated that the GM crops currently available in the market do not benefit consumers." (p 12)
(4) See, for example, the following:
(5) According to a letter received 24.11.05 from Arpad Pusztai, "A consistent
feature of all the studies done, published or unpublished, including MON863,
indicates major problems with changes in the immune status of animals fed on
various GM crops/foods, the latest example of this coming from the GM pea research
in Australia." See also:
Genetically Modified Peas Caused Dangerous Immune Response in Mice
Other GM Foods are Not Tested for This and May Be Harmful, By Jeffrey M. Smith, Dec 22, 2005, 14:16
(6) The UK Farm-scale trials showed without a doubt that GM crops are harmful
to the environment and damage biodiversity. See these:
Report by the Environmental Audit Committee
and on the link with increased pesticide use, see these:
(7) The GM multinationals, and scientists working on seed dispersal etc, are
aware that GM contamination is effectively impossible to prevent once GM crops
are planted in an area. See:
At a GM meeting in Aberystwyth on 16 April 2003 Dr Jeremy Sweet said: "We do
have to accept the fact that once GM oil seed rape is commercialised it will
be everywhere and that is inevitable, because conventional rape is
everywhere. There is no reason why its going to behave differently from
conventional rape. So once we start growing GM rape it will become as
widely dispersed as conventional rape."
(8) See this: