November 20, 2014 by Staff Reporter
Last week, Beyond GM launched its Letter from America initiative, attracting press attention from all over the globe.
The Letter, which highlights the problems and challenges faced by American farmers, consumers and others in nearly two decades of growing and eating GM crops, was signed by groups and organisations representing 57 million Americans. It urges the British public and politicians not to accept GMO’s and to speak out before it’s too late.
After months of working with campaigners in the US, Beyond GM secured signatures from NGO’s, trade groups and businesses such as Food & Water Watch, the Sierra Club, the Rachel Carson Council, Friends of the Earth, the Organic Consumers Association, Dr Bronner’s and NYR Organic as well as high profile individuals including such as actors Susan Sarandon, Daryl Hannah and Frances Fisher, activist and attorney Robert Kennedy Jr and fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger.
The Letter from America was delivered to Downing Street on the 11th by a delegation which included fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, chef Val Warner, MP, Michael Meacher, two of the campaigners from the US, Pamm Larry (Label GMOs) and Diana Reeves (GMO Free USA.) as well as Beyond GM Campaign Director, Pat Thomas.
The full version of the letter with references can be read here. The website urges US citizens to add their names to the list of signatories and British citizens to write to their MP’s, registering their concerns about GM crops.
In the first week after it was published, we had groups and individuals representing another million people sign on including the Indian-American physician and author, Deepak Chopra. Beyond GM also had enquiries from groups in Africa, Australia and China – all wanting to run similar campaigns in their own countries.
Said Pat Thomas: “The Letter is an exciting and powerfully written document that sheds a harsh light on what will happen here in the UK and the rest of Europe if we continue to push for the planting of GM crops. It also can teach us about the importance and effectiveness of public engagement. Biotech companies have spent a lot of time and money sidelining public opinion, and turning the GM debate into an abstract and academic affair. It’s time the public was brought back into the ‘public debate’ about what they eat, and what they feed their children, and it’s time politicians and regulators started listening.”
The timing of the Letter from America was critical as the European Parliament will vote in January whether member states can decide for themselves to grow GM crops or not. If this legislation is passed, the UK could see the planting of commercial GM crops within the next six to eighteen months.