Your Ref: mcw260710
Shailesh Vara MP
North West Cambridgehsire
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
Dear Shailesh Vara
Thank you very much for your letter of 26th July with copy letter from Lord Henley attached which I received today.
I did indeed receive a letter from Defra, although I did not write to them directly about the GM potato trials. However, I did send a copy of my letter to Lord Henley on July10th when I discovered that he signed the authorisation for the Norfolk trials, and Defra replied on his behalf.
Basically, Defra’s letter was an attempt to assure me that the GM potato trials would not create any health or environment risks as the application was assessed by the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) which is “an independent scientific expert group that advises Defra on this issue”. Also, I was told that officials will check the site after the trials to ensure that GM material does not persist. And, the GM potatoes will not be allowed to enter the food or animal feed chain.
However, I already had this information. Although disappointed, I’m not surprised by this very narrow view of the situation. The government has not published its official GMO policy yet, but it is fully aware of and supports the European developments in favour of commercial GM crops in the Member States. It is already encouraging GM food and GM feed in the United Kingdom with its safety and nutrition propaganda, e.g., on the Food Standards Agency website.
From the letters I have received from government officials, it would appear that many do not fully understand the GMO issues. As evidence of this, I invite you to read a letter from Lord Hughes of Woodside to me and my recent reply on my Blog: http://borgfoodchain.blogspot.co.uk/2010/08/2-august-2010-dear-lord-hughes-of.html.
My initial concern was not whether GMOs are safe or not, but my choice to avoid GMOs in my food. Organic food has already had to accommodate up to 0.9% GMO content in processed foods which I avoid. But if organic whole foods are contaminated, I will eventually not be able to avoid GMOs even by "growing my own." The point of my complaint is not whether GMOs are safe or not, but my diminishing right to choose organic non-GMO foods produced in a natural way.
Besides your letters, the only reassurance I have received to date is that Lord Livsey of Talgarth agrees with my concerns and many supermarkets have confirmed their non-GMO policies in their own brand foods. As Hannah Sutter metaphorically says in her book Big Fat Lies, Is your government making you fat?, the ship is heading for an iceberg. Why calls of warning are being ignored can only be because those at the helm (and others in charge) are asleep, or as spiritualists would say, unconscious. So I have now joined in the warning efforts with hopes that the ship will steer clear of the impending disaster. The fate of the Titanic may seem inevitable, but I will keep a positive outlook nonetheless.
Thank you again for your interest and writing on my behalf.
cc: Lord Henley
Christopher Hussesy, Defra Customer Contact Unit