Archived press release
GM Report Shows A Decade of Failure

A new report released today (Monday 23 February) by Friends of the Earth International shows the negative consequences of 10 years of Genetically Modified (GM) crops on our planet and the need for international liability rules [1].

According to the report, launched at the start in Kuala Lumpur of United Nations talks on GM organisms and their potential risks [2], shows that 10 years after the first GM crop (a GM tomato) appeared on supermarket shelves, biotech corporations are still failing to deliver on their promises of GM crops with clear benefits for consumers or farmers.

Friends of the Earth believes the report makes timely reading for the UK Cabinet Committee who met earlier this month to agree on how to push forward with the introduction of GM in the UK. UK Environment Minister Elliot Morley is expected to be in Kuala Lumpur for the talks and has already been talking down opposition to GM crops in Britain [3].

The report "Genetically Modified crops: a decade of failure [1994-2004]" highlights the problems GM crops are causing, especially to farmers and the environment and shows that:

  • GM crops have adverse socio-economic impacts, as well as creating environmental problems (such as genetic contamination) and threatening biodiversity.
  • Argentina is the world's second largest producer of GM crops and illustrates how GM crops are not a solution for 'feeding the world', as the biotech companies claim, as millions of Argentineans face hunger and malnutrition.
  • In Europe distrust in GM is so high that GM food has been removed from the majority of supermarket shelves.
  • The large-scale release of GM crops around the globe would increase the ecological vulnerability already associated with monoculture agriculture.

Friends of the Earth GM Campaigner Clare Oxborrow said:

“Evidence from around the world shows that GM crops are not only unwanted, but that they are damaging as well. GM companies must be prepared to pay the price for the damage their products might cause. If they refuse to be held liable, the Government should refuse to allow them to plant their crops. Tony Blair should look at the global case against GM crops and realise what a mistake it would be to commercialise them here in the UK.”

In the UK, Friends of the Earth is supporting a GMO (Contamination and Liability) Bill being put forward by Conservative MP Gregory Barker. This would introduce a strict liability code and liability funds to ensure that if organic or conventional crops are contaminated by GMOs, those affected can be reimbursed for their losses. It would also introduce separation distances and times between GM crops and other crops to prevent GM contamination. The Bill will be debated in Parliament on 26th March 2004.

Notes

[1] The report is available, for journalists only, to download at the

Friends of the Earth International website:
www.foei.org/media/gmdecade

The information it contains should not be used before February 23, 2004 at 00:01 GMT (08:01 time of Kuala Lumpur)

[2] The first meeting of the United Nations 'Biosafety Protocol', an international treaty that became law in September 2003 is currently being held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Feb 23-27). For more info on the "First meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety" go to the official UN website: www.biodiv.org/biosafety/

The meeting will mainly discuss a biosafety clearing-house mechanism, bio-safety capacity-building, liability and redress, protocol compliance, and the handling, transport, packaging and identification of GM (or Living Modified) organisms.

[3] Elliot Morley spoke at a press conference on Friday 20th February where he suggested that the British public were not opposed to GM when they received extra information - the exact opposite of the findings of the GM Nation public debate. See www.biotechimc.org/

If you're a journalist looking for press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649.

Published by Friends of the Earth Trust