Following on from last year’s #NotInMySupermarket campaign, Slow Food in the UK and Beyond GM again created a coalition to urge supermarkets to reflect consumer wishes and not support the weakening of GMO legislation.

With more than 60 signatories representing leaders from food, farming, religion, philanthropy, business, and academia in UK and in Europe retailers with stores in the UK and EU (Including NI) are asked to:

  • join the existing coalition of European retailers advocating for the continued regulation and labeling of all GM food under existing GMO regulations;
  • refrain from giving any explicit or tacit support for government plans to remove labeling and traceability and therefore hide GMOs in the food supply chain;
  • re-affirm and update existing GM policies in relation to own brands so that they explicitly prohibit gene edited products, in light of consumer attitudes.

The reason for this letter is two-fold

  • In the EU, the European Commission has stated that current GMO regulations are no longer “fit for purpose” and should be reviewed for GM plants engineered with so-called “new genomic techniques”, like gene editing. It aims to propose new legislation for certain new GM techniques before the summer of 2023.
  • In the UK, the government has already introduced a new bill that would exclude both gene-edited plants and animals from existing GMO regulations. The bill creates a false distinction between what it calls “precision bred organisms” (“PBOs”) and other types of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

If these deregulation plans go ahead, existing requirements for GMO risk assessment, traceability and labeling could be abandoned for a wide range of genetically modified organisms. Breeders, farmers, food and feed processors, retailers and consumers may no longer know where these GM plants and animals are in the food system and would have no way to avoid them. This would mean a loss of control over all value chains for the entire food sector that is responsible and liable for the products it sells, and would seriously hinder consumers’ freedom of choice.

Furthermore, the techniques used to create these organisms have been shown to be imprecise and to lead to genetic changes that could compromise food and environmental safety. Indeed, the European Court of Justice ruling of 2018 states that “the risks linked to the use of those new techniques […] might prove to be similar to those which result from the production and release of a GMO”, concluding that these techniques are subject to the same safety assessments as GMOs.  

We will publish any responses as and when we receive them.