The Guardian is reporting that the UK’s top environment regulator, the Environment Agency (EA), is set to publish a report in the next few weeks that will set out what to do about the growing use of genetically modified foods in our food supply.
The EA’s report, which is likely to be released before Christmas, will focus on the “consequences” of genetically modifying crops and will examine how best to prevent and manage the emergence of non-native species that may be harmful to our health.
The report will also consider how to “protect the environment from the impacts of these organisms” and “ensure that all UK agricultural and food production practices meet regulatory requirements and meet the standards of the European Union”.
“I think that the report is really a wake-up call for the regulators,” said Andrew Stewart, CEO of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), an academic body that studies the impact of environmental regulation.
“They are now going to be asked to say what is in our national food supply, and the answer is GM crops.
We need to be really careful in the use of GM food and in the way we manage it, because if we do it incorrectly, it could end up in the environment where we’re going to see negative impacts.”
The UK is one of the few countries that currently allows GM crops to be grown in the UK.
The issue is now at the forefront of political debate in the country, where the government is currently considering introducing the country’s first “GMO Labelling Bill” that would require all GM foods to be labelled.
Under the current system, GM crops are labelled as “genetically modified” if they contain a gene that allows the organism to be modified, or as “natural”.
The bill would require a company to label a food if it is genetically modified, which would be impossible if the GM plant is not in the food chain.
But a recent petition launched by the campaign group Campaign for Better Farming (CBF) has called for the government to reclassify GM foods as “non-GM” foods and allow them to be marketed as such.
“If the UK Government does not follow through on its promises to make GM food the law of the land, consumers and the environment will suffer, and it is time to make sure that the Government is listening,” the petition says.
“As the Environment Authority, we need to take a hard look at the risks of GM technology in our supply chain.
We must not just rely on the assurances of our industry, but take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of food production and our environment.”
We need to stop relying on these assurances when they are so far from the truth.
“The government is expected to announce the details of the GM Labelling bill in the autumn.