ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
Date:  3 March 2001


Well done to all who attended the UK Food Standards Agency meeting on seed purity, and particularly to Marcus Williamson, editor of the GM Food website Http://,  who helped alert everyone to the meeting and the importance of the issue.  Marcus reports:

I turned up at 9am, before the organisers, so I set myself up in a corner by the door, dressed smartly, looking like an "official". When the FSA organisers arrived, it was me doing the "Good morning, FSA meeting this way, and would you like a leaflet...?!"

The subversion worked almost too well as some of our own side thought that I was with the FSA, until they read the leaflet...

*  *  *
The following are Caroline Clarke's comments on what occurred.:

The FSA 'open' meeting on Thursday was much what you might expect, but even so, some interesting remarks get thrown up.   Dr. Roger Turner was back on form, having been absent from
the AEBC's December London launch for the public, then  keeping quiet and looking downcast at Norwich 5/6 February.

His contributions included the following pearls:

1.  Ref. to IP:

    "Millions of people eating GM safely in North America.  We need realistic thresholds."

2.  Re-GM, in response to "GM-free status of UK is under threat"

    "Sugar beet has very little implication, as it's detasselled.There is very little organic OSR."

[No, but there are over 1 million non-GM OSR acres to be cross-pollinated out there, with hybrids highly susceptible as they are only 20% self-pollinating. The maximum separation distances are no greater than 50m. from ordinary OSR varieties, 200m.from hybrids and organic OSR. Seeds remain viable for 5 years at least. And not 1p compensation for GM contaminated crops the farmers won'tbe able to sell].

"Forage maize has potential issues for sweetcorn - but there are barriers."

And in reply to 'these are insufficient, as shown in Canada, and we have outdated procedures', RT said:

3.  "NIAB reported on separation distances. National Listing is very special. No reason to pick on GM [!], these are emotional issues, TECHNICALLY THERE ARE NO DIFFERENCES."

Incidentally, another spokesman from the BSPB gang of 3 or 4 (didn't catch his name) said he was a former ADVANTA[?] manager, now with BSPB. This man said:  " Existing seed purity is most accurate. Through certification we are able to trace every single seed...tests are from properly
drawn samples. Never zero, there is always a level of impurity."

How do we meet the requirements of minimum GM ?"

A fellow BSPB then added, "There's no such thing as zero."

To which (THE) Dr. John Fagan told us that well-established methods can obtain a representative figure - in 25 tests, 23 were perfect to 0.1%.

I also understood him to say that the OECD seed scheme had grappled unsuccessfully with GM, *since in (standard) seed testing there could be a difference of 1% to 2% in distinguish-
ing one variety from another.*

The Sainsbury spokesman referred to the Flavr Savr Tomato:  "This had had full safety assessment, and only been withdrawn because there was no demand !"

[We know from the Druker evidence how rigorous such assessments are. Although more tests were requested from those who had conducted the Flavr Savr study, none were carried out.
In fact the test animals had developed stomach lesions which should have been investigated further. This suppression of what is unfavourable to the biotech companies is GM endemic].

So you see the lies continue...

To offset this, among others, both Pete Riley for FoE and Andy Tait for Greenpeace made substantial and perceptive contributions - the pro-GM lobbyists didn't have it all
their own way.

[* to *] some people had soft voices and were difficult to hear.

Caroline Clarke

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