Readers of my blog will be familiar with my attitude to GM (genetically modified) crops:
- A powerful documentary on GM food – please watch!
- Once again BBC Radio 4 champions GM
- BBC’s Today programme attacks herbalism, promotes GM and contributes to the anti-science ‘new age of darkness’ it describes
A new front in the war against GM
Now a new front has opened in this war, and it’s pretty alarming! UK supermarkets are claiming that they have no choice but to stock products derived from animals fed GM crops. This is the thin end of the wedge, as Monsanto, Syngenta, etc., seek to establish a stranglehold (metaphor used advisedly) on the world’s food supply.
Inspired by this excellent Facebook group, I decided to pass my concerns to the Co-operative Group, because I am a member who joined believing them to be ethical. Below you will find our correspondence to date, in reverse order. I hope you will find it informative and inspiring.
My latest letter to the Co-operative:
Dear Co-operative Food Customer Care Team
I am extremely disappointed by your apparently complacent and condescending response. I strongly disagree that GM food/feed is not a risk to humans or animals that consume it. I refer you to this documentary, in which various credible doctors, veterinarians, farmers, etc., present compelling evidence to the contrary. (Incidentally, I am a veterinarian myself, and I hold master’s in ecology and a doctorate in ecotoxicology.)
GM crops are also extremely harmful to producers and biodiversity, as this document demonstrates. GM production does not generally increase yields, generally requires high inputs of herbicide, fertiliser and fossil fuel energy, damages biodiversity, and is developed by companies whose ethics and treatment of producers have been widely questioned. It is reasonable to conclude that it is completely at odds with sustainable food production.
You appear to be unaware of the links (revolving doors) between GM companies such as Monsanto and regulatory bodies that supposedly govern food safety. There are huge vested interests in covering up the evidence of the damage done by such crops, as a tiny bit of research on your part would reveal. See, for example: http://ecosia.org/search.php?q=monsanto+fda+revolving+door&addon=opensearch
I look forward to a more satisfactory response from yourselves, in which you provide evidence from unimpeachable sources refuting the evidence presented in the links I have provided. Alternatively, I expect to receive assurance that you are dropping your pro-GM stance. If I do not receive either of these responses I can only conclude that you are not an ethical business, and care little for your customers and members, the environment (including biodiversity, on which all future food production depends), and the welfare of food producers.
I hope to hear from you soon.
R. Eric Swanepoel Phd, MSc, BVSc, MRCVS
Co-op member 633174 9111 1128 4242
Response from the Co-operative:
Thank you for contacting the Co-operative regarding our policy on GM.
The amount of GM crops grown across the globe has increased rapidly and it’s becoming more and more difficult to have a continuous and guaranteed supply of non-GM soya for animal feed.
We’ve been working with suppliers to maintain non-GM feed for as long as practically possible, but this position is now becoming untenable. Our own-brand chicken and turkey supplier has informed us that they are no longer able to guarantee that the animal feed they are using is non-GM, so we are no longer able to guarantee to you that these animals have not been fed a non-GM diet.
We’ve looked for alternative ways to source non-GM feed, but the limited supplies of guaranteed non-GM feed available, and the increased costs to farmers and customers means this isn’t feasible.
Our shell egg supplier has also informed us that, they are having difficulties maintaining a guaranteed supply of non-GM soya, although they are continuing to look at ways to resolve this issue.
Rest assured the poultry and eggs themselves are not genetically modified and the FSA have proven that meat fed on GM soya is no different from meat fed a non-GM diet. GM feed poses no risk to either your safety or that of the animals it’s fed to. In fact, before any GM products can be used in the EU, the European Union has to verify it’s safe for human and animal health.
You can read more about our GM position here www.co-operativefood.co.uk/ethics/Environmental-impact/Genetic-Modification-GM/
and the FSA’s position here www.food.gov.uk/policy-advice/gm/gmanimal
Co-operative Food Customer Care Team
My original letter:
Dear Co-operative Group
I am writing to you as a member who joined because I thought you were an ethical organisation. I urge you not to stock any GM products, including those issuing from animals fed GM crops. There is now an abundance of information showing how GM crops benefit only companies such as Monsanto, at the cost of many producers, the environment, animals and human consumers. See, for example: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/reports/who_benefits_from_gm_crops.pdf and http://geneticroulettemovie.com/ .
I look forward to your response.
R. Eric Swanepoel PhD, MSc, BVSc, MRCVS
Co-op Member 633174 90111 1128 4242