TAKE ACTION: Tell Your MP ‘Precision Bred’ GMOs Must Be Labelled

May 10, 2024 by Staff Reporter

A note about the General Election

The recently called general election has delayed the tabling of new legislation, but not for long. We will keep the Write to Your MP action open and we encourage you to send your letter to your MP as soon as possible before the brief dissolution of Parliament on 30 May. In addition to writing to your MP, we are encouraging everyone to take any opportunity to raise the issue of labelling genetically modified PBOs in the food system with their MPs during the election campaign (particularly if they are Labour, Liberal Democrat or Green Party candidates). If you are in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland this is a good time to press your Westminster representative to maintain and strengthen the devolved nations’ opposition to the Genetic Technology Act. Post election, we will be promoting the action to demand labelling with renewed energy with the new government.

Take Action 

Recently Defra met with stakeholders like ourselves to confirm the next steps for the Genetic Technology Act.

We were given details of a package of statutory instruments (SIs) that will make the Act fully operational. These will include provisions for the production of genetically engineered ‘precision bred’ (PBO) farm animals and plants in our food system and for the way that these foods can be marketed in England – and by extension the rest of the UK.

Currently, however, there is no provision for labelling these precision bred foods. Given that the majority of citizens in this country, have expressed a preference to see these foods labelled, this is a terrible betrayal of public trust.

Let them know you want genetically engineered PBO foods to be labelled. Email your MP now using Beyond GM’s e-action page.

Defra argues that the Act is already written and can’t be changed and that its scientists have advised it that labelling is unnecessary. This is nonsense. Legislation evolves and is updated all the time. The moment when government is seeking to update the Act anyway is the time when such an amendment can easily be made.

Defra, along with the Food Standards Agency, also argues that there will be a ‘public register’ on the government website, which will contain information on genetically engineered precision bred crops and foods. But a register, as the Food Standards Agency’s own consumer surveys have shown, is not adequate on its own and needs to be accompanied by on-package labelling to ensure full transparency.

Besides, who on earth is going to try and navigate a government website while they are trying to get the food shopping done?!

The Genetic Technology Act should reflect what citizens in this country have repeatedly said they want: to see these foods labelled so that they can:

  • Exercise their consumer right not to be misled about what they are buying and eating
  • Make a clear choice, at point of purchase, not to buy genetically engineered precision bred foods
  • Refuse to support a system of food production that does not align with their values and that they do not trust.

Labelling serves multiple important functions throughout the food system.

That’s why we are asking you to use our e-platform to write to your MP or Westminster representative today. Help put this issue on their agenda ahead of the announcement of the SI package and ask them to ensure the upcoming changes in the Genetic Technology Act include a provision for mandatory labelling.

We recognise that politics in the UK are in flux, that there is a general election looming and a possibility of a new or reconfigured government on the horizon.

Nevertheless, our members of Parliament – in this or any other government – work for us and should be actively advocating on our behalf to ensure genetically engineered PBOs are labelled because:

  • It’s what citizens want
  • It’s the right thing to do
  • It’s a simple change to make

Now, as the government is preparing to table the statutory instruments that will complete the Genetic Technology Act, please help put this issue in front of your MP or Westminster representative and make it clear that 8 in 10 citizens of the UK want genetically engineered PBOs labelled and we will continue to press for a label on all genetically engineered precision bred organisms in the food system.