Some might remember Julie Girling as a Gloucestershire County Councillor - well she has now been an MEP since last years elections. On her website she asked for views re GM and Cloning.
Pic: we still don't know effects of GM on insect life
You can see my response below - among the interesting statements she makes is: "The scientific safeguards must be 110% if we are to permit them entering our food chain." This is not exactly in keeping with the current operation of the European Food Safety Authority-based approvals, loathe as they are to apply the precautionary principle. Some reading this blog might also be moved to write to her.
Atten: Julie Girling I hope you are settling well into your role as MEP. I see from your website you are seeking views on GM and Cloning.
You no doubt will be aware that in February last year Friends of the Earth International published a substantial report on Food Sovereignty; Who benefits from GM crops? It concluded that, “GM crops cannot, and are unlikely to ever contribute to poverty reduction, global food security or sustainable farming.” Firstly, hunger is chiefly attributed to poverty, not lack of food production. Secondly, the vast bulk of GM crops are fed to animals, not to the world’s poor. Thirdly, GM crops do not increase yield and they often lead to a greater use of pesticide. Fourthly, the real beneficiaries of GM crops are the biotech corporations who have make huge profits from selling expensive seeds and pesticides.
I am astonished by the spin of the biotech industry that still tries to suggest increased yields - I urge you to look at the science and not at what they are pushing! In brief: none of the GM crops on the market are modified for increased yield potential, some studies show GM crops reduce yield, disease-tolerant GM crops are practically non-existent, the GM industry has not marketed a single GM crop with enhanced nutrition, drought-tolerance, salt-tolerance or any of the other 'beneficial' traits long-promised by the industry and there are no commercially available GM crops designed for biofuels. Furthermore GM crops have contributed substantially to increased pesticide use and most new GM crop varieties are also pesticide-promoting.
Indeed I am appalled that not more has been done to look at the effects of GM on humans. What little research has been done raises real concerns. You will be well aware that the British public fully rejected GM crops yet despite this Tony Blair continued to try and push GM. As a last point on labelling, products from GM-fed animals should also be labelled. If an animal is given genetically-modified fodder, then its milk, meat and eggs should be labelled accordingly. See more at: "Who Benefits from GM crops?: Feeding the biotech giants, not the world's poor", Friends of the Earth International (2009). Full report: http://www.foeeurope.org/GMOs/Who_Benefits/full_report_2009.pdf
The prospect of animals being cloned for food is a hugely worrying one, and I was delighted that the EU has voted in the past to prohibit it. I am concerned that the issue is again being discussed. From an animal welfare perspective, it is clear that this process causes serious suffering. Impacts on human health are still unknown and any support for it flies in the face of consumers concerns.
It would seem that the only reason to pursue animal cloning is to increase the profits of the corporations behind it. Cloning is an incredibly wasteful way of producing food, requiring the loss of many animal lives just to produce one successful clone. Furthermore, it has been shown that the animals who do survive suffer more defects and die much earlier than non-cloned animals.
A green light to produce food from cloned animals would ultimately lead to a reduction in breed and genetic varieties of livestock, which have already become restricted through current practices. Such variety offers an essential safeguard against epidemics and food scares. The European Group on Ethics, which advises the European Commission, said in its final opinion published in 2008 that it ’does not see convincing arguments to justify the production of food from clones and their offspring’."
I hope this is useful. All the best - Philip
Cllr Philip Booth