March 2006: The Soil Association press release
We are writing to you with an urgent request for action to protect the integrity of organic food. The European Commission have just come out with a proposal to amend the Regulation that governs
organic farming and food in the EU. We are totally opposed to this proposal, which is a major threat to the integrity of organic food in the UK.
Our key concern is that the proposal would allow GM contamination of organic food that would risk nearly one in a hundred mouthfuls being GM. The EU would allow routine contamination of organic products with up to 0.9% GM, with no need to label the product as containing GM or giving any information to consumers. This is in line with the desire of the US Government and GM companies to see all our food contaminated with GM.
The EU proposals would also obscure the local origins of organic food by imposing a generic EU organic logo or the words "EU organic" on all organic food, and would concentrate more power over organic food and farming in the hands of the EU Commission. The revised regulation seems designed to force organic farming and food into a vision of globally competitive commodity production based on the lowest possible standards. The Soil Association's own standards will not be compromised or weakened, but we will fight to protect all organic food. Working alongside organic organisations in other EU countries, and environmental and consumer groups, the Soil Association is determined to stop these damaging changes.
What you can do if you agree this is wrong
- Please email your MP and ask them to sign the all-party Early Day Motion (EDM) number 1599 to show their support for keeping organic food GM-free. Please explain why you want them to do that briefly and in your own words. The EDM has been put forward by Labour MP Alan Simpson, Conservative Shadow Environment Minister Peter Ainsworth and LibDem spokesman Norman Baker. The text of the motion, originally put forward by Friends of the Earth, is attached below. 35 MPs have already signed it to express their support – you can find their names below. If your MP has signed the EDM, please email them to thank them, and urge them to get more MPs to sign. You can email your MP by visiting www.locata.co.uk/commons
- If you have time, could you also email your MEP to tell them that you have concerns about the proposed revision of the EU Regulation governing organic food and farming. Please ask them to pass on your concerns to the EU Agriculture Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel, and to let you know what she says. That way we hope the person responsible for this in the EU will hear your views. You can find your MEP's email address at www.europarl.org.uk/uk_meps/MembersMain.htm
Lastly, a huge thank you is due to the hundreds of people who contacted their supermarkets to demand that they stop feeding farm animals GM feed. Some retailers are already making efforts to phase out GM feed and, with consumer pressure, hopefully the others will follow suit.
Thanks for your support,
The Soil Association – the heart of organic food and farming
T. 0117 914 2433
F. 0117 925 2504
Early Day Motion (EDM 1599)
GM CONTAMINATION OF ORGANIC PRODUCTS 07.02.2006
That this House notes the proposal by the European Commission to revise the EU Organic Regulation and impose on organic products a threshold of 0.9 per cent. for contamination by genetically modified (GM) organisms; further notes the expansion of organic farming in the last decade and its positive contribution to the farming economy and the environment; further notes the wishes of the majority of European consumers to avoid any GM content in food; recognises that most organic certification bodies operate to the practical detection limit of 0.1 per cent.; is concerned that the imposition of a GM threshold for organic food above the detectable level will damage the reputation of organic produce and lead to increasing GM contamination over time; and calls upon the Secretary of State to support non-GM food production and farmer and consumer choice by opposing the use of a 0.9 per cent. threshold as a reference in co-existence measures or in the EU Organic Regulation, ensuring that strict liability rules put the cost of GM contamination on the polluters and not on taxpayers or the non-GM sector, recognising the importance of independent organic certification and the need to protect this system by ensuring that organic means no GMOs, and ensuring that the threshold for all non-GM seed is set at the practical limit of detection.