Originally published April 23 2014
UK ministers hold secret meetings with biotech companies to promote GMOs
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) British ministers of Parliament are attempting to cover up secret meetings that they have had with companies that produce genetically-modified organism (GMO) products in a bid to push "Frankenfood" on an unsuspecting public.
The Daily Mail has reported that Owen Paterson, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Secretary, has denied a Freedom of Information Act request to supply details about the secret talks with lobbyists for the GMO trade industry.
The paper stated that Paterson, a Conservative Party member, has also led efforts to encourage a skeptical public to accept GMO crops grown on farms in the UK and sold in the country's supermarkets. He has also been lobbying the European Union to allow Great Britain to grow crops such as GMO maize, even if it is banned in other countries.
'Daily Mail Story
As reported by the Daily Mail:
It has emerged that these efforts are being carried out in partnership with the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), which is financed by GM companies, such as Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer CropScience.
The revelations come weeks after it was revealed that a group of scientists behind an official government study backing GM all had links to the industry.
Now, the report continued, evidence has emerged of meetings and briefings involving ministers of Parliament and the ABC and its backers in the industry. However, no meetings have occured with groups concerned about the impact of GMO foods on human health and the environmental impact of GMO crops.
The advocacy group, GeneWatch UK, has made a freedom of information request to learn what was said at the briefings, but Paterson's department has so far refused to provide details, the Mail reported.
The denial has led GeneWatch to file a formal complaint with the Information Commission in an effort to force the ministers to admit how GMO companies are influencing or driving government policy.
"The evidence strongly suggests the Government is colluding with the GM industry to manipulate the media, undermine access to GM-free-fed meat and dairy products and plot the return of GM crops to Britain," said GeneWatch director Dr. Helen Wallace. "The public have a right to know what is going on behind closed doors."
She added: "Ministers who should be protecting our environment have put Monsanto and Syngenta in the driving seat of policy on GM crops and foods, despite growing evidence that the GM crops will harm British wildlife, such as butterflies."
DEFRA has also refused to provide details of a telephone conference call between the department and ABC on June 10, 2013.
Ten days after that conference, Paterson made a speech calling for opposition to GMO foods to end, claiming that GMO crops were "probably safer" than the conventional equivalent.
'We've provided as much information as possible'
In addition, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has refused to release a "message on media suggestions" that was issued by the ABC to DEFRA a year ago, as well as details of discussions between Monsanto and DEFRA a couple of months prior.
Tesco, Marks & Spencer, the Co-op and Sainsbury's later decided to end bans on using GM feed for chickens.
The department has also refused to provide details of emails and a meeting between former minister of state for agriculture and food, David Heath, and the ABC in January 2013.
"We provided as much information as possible in response to GeneWatch's request. Any information withheld was within the legislation," the department said.
"We have regular dialogue with a range of stakeholders, including policy-makers," ABC deputy chairman Dr. Tom Lyall said.
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