From Peter Melchett, policy director, The Soil Association
Sir; The Consumers' Association is right to urge the Food Standards Agency to reverse its obtuse position on food labelling and GM ('Call for more GM study at FSA' - The Grocer April 12, p8). The National Consumer Council and the Consumers' Association, along with a huge range of other organisations, including the Soil Association, have consistently told the FSA it is failing to represent consumers by opposing labelling of food containing GM and GM derivatives, and by its idiosyncratic support for a "GM free" label. It has been at odds with the rest of the EU in this strange stance, and has been over-ruled by the European Parliament.
Now even its own Citizens' Jury have told it it is wrong, a fact that got curiously little attention in the FSA's press release. What the FSA's press release did emphasise was the jury's majority vote in favour of GM food going on sale in the UK, although at least one juror has subsequently said publicly that the FSA may have exaggerated their support.
In any event, the FSA's breakaway debate on GM is unlikely to be taken very seriously by anyone, and it will, thankfully, now report through the independent steering group of the legitimate government-funded public debate.
Despite a shaky start, with the government nearly refusing adequate funding, the Soil Association has full confidence in the impartiality of the steering group, and is urging as many people as possible to take part in the proper debate, and to have their say on the vital issues at stake.