Editorial: Frankenstein food for media thought

John Prescott steered clear of the Brits this year and instead showed up at the 10th British Environment and Media Awards to hand a very topical special awareness award to Iceland’s chairman Malcolm Walker for his company’s stance against genetically modified foods.

John Prescott steered clear of the Brits this year and instead

showed up at the 10th British Environment and Media Awards to hand a

very topical special awareness award to Iceland’s chairman Malcolm

Walker for his company’s stance against genetically modified foods.



On receipt of the award Walker, referring to his fellow award winner

Anita Roddick commented: ’The Body Shop doesn’t test on animals, and we

don’t test on people.’



Indeed, while the jury is still out on whether GM foods are harmful, the

British public have become unwitting guinea pigs in what amounts to a

nationwide clinical trial without consent. A situation labelled by the

media quite rightly as a PR calamity.



While the Government preaches to local authorities to engage in dialogue

with its customers as part of the policy-making process, the UK public

have been delivered a fait accompli on the issue of GM food.



Sainsbury’s is reported to have identified 1,500 of it 10,000 own brand

products that include genetically modified ingredients or derivatives

and much of the soya or oils that enter the country are mixed with GM

versions. This is definitely a case of do as I say, not as I do.



The Government has obviously failed to learn its lessons from the

mishandling of the BSE crisis, and still doesn’t realise that public

reassurance requires more than an ill-informed oft repeated insistence

on safety. Even if Labour has a short memory, the media does not.



The Government has also underestimated the fleet footedness of lobbying

groups such as GeneWatch which has displayed its own rapid rebuttal

expertise.



In addition, US companies such as Monsanto have singularly failed to

understand the sensitivities of this market, and have been too quick to

push the benefits of GM food without providing the information necessary

for consumers to make an informed choice.



Perhaps it is the size of the UK market that makes the public mandate so

powerful. Increasingly corporations are required to obtain a licence to

operate from consumers and the communities they operate in. On this

occasion the licence was not even sought, let alone granted.



With the supermarkets trying desperately to distance themselves from

foods containing GM ingredients, another plank in the GM defence has

gone.



As a result the media is having a field day whipping up mass

hysteria.



There is a danger that, without careful handling, the UK public will

never be willing to accept these so called ’wonder-foods’ even if they

prove as safe as houses.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.