The only way to stop GM potatoes entering UK supermarkets is to boycott them… in other words, don’t buy them. GM potatoes are on their way, according to various media sources which are trying to soften up the British public by telling them that GM potatoes are safe, despite them not being tested for human safety.
But as more than £1.7 million of British tax payers money has been poured into their development at The Sainsbury Lab, whether we liked it or not, they were bound at some point to try to reap back their.. er, I mean, our investment.
This all began in 2010, when The Sainsbury Lab was given permission by DEFRA (the Department for the Enivironment, Food and Rural Affairs) to experiment with growing blight-free GM potatoes, despite a Welsh blight-free version being already in existence which had been developed using conventional breeding techniques.
Five years down the road, and now we’re being told that they’re on their way into British supermarkets, once a few hurdles have been cleared – such as passing EU tests for toxicity, allergic reactions and the risk of contaminating other crops with a modified gene.
However, the fact that a Sky News item yesterday tried to persuade viewers of their benefits to our health would indicate that that will just be a rubber stamping exercise, and GM potatoes will be in our supermarkets soon.
But who will buy them, asks Liz O’Neill, director of the GM Freeze campaign group?
“Experience shows that the UK doesn’t want GM in its shopping basket and British farmers are far too smart to grow something they can’t sell, so just who is this new potato being developed for?”
Emma Hockridge, head of policy at the Soil Association, said: ‘There is no market for GM potatoes in the UK.
‘Growing any GM potatoes in the UK could lead to contamination in the supply chain, resulting in massive loss of markets for UK farmers.’
The campaign group GeneWatch UK accused the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, which funded the trial, of wasting taxpayers’ money.
Dr Helen Wallace, director of GeneWatch UK, said: ‘There are blight-resistant non-GM potatoes already on the market. Why waste money, take unnecessary risks, and end up with a product that no one wants to eat?’
The best solution is to stop buying all potatoes from the supermarket – unless they are organic and/or you can verify the grower. Where petitions and protest marches have very little effect, this kind of consumer power has been shown to work. In Germany, the supermarkets were forced to stop selling chickens fed on GM-feed because consumers there refused to buy them. Now the German organic soya market is opening up there again, following market forces.
In America, a record number of farmers are moving away from growing GM crops because of a rising tide of public distrust of genetically modified ingredients, failing GMO traits, higher GMO seed prices, and the premium prices which people will willingly pay for quality food over toxic junk.
So by replacing our ordinary potatoes with the organic kind, or other carbohydrates – such as rice, buckwheat, noodles and pasta – our farmers in the UK will feel more inclined to switch over to growing organic potatoes.
If you have a good health food shop, you’ll probably be able to buy organic potatoes there. There are also increasingly a number of organic food suppliers online, like Abel and Cole and Riverford, that will deliver a box of vegetables every week. The more we support organic, the more plentiful, accessible and cheaper it will become.
And don’t forget, if you haven’t already downloaded it, our free app Shop GMO-Free in the UK will keep you up with all the latest developments.
Shop GMO-Free in the UK app
We’re the first to bring out an app containing the GM status of more than 10,000 foods sold in UK supermarkets, Shop GMO-Free in the UK, which you can download for free here!