indy | 08.03.2005 23:47 | Bio-technology
Campaigners are demanding that Sainsburys honour their undertaking to stop marketing dairy products from animals reared on genetically modified soya and maize. Currently the use of animal feed is keeping GM in the food chain despite overwhelming opposition from consumers. Sainsburys have also been heavily criticised for driving down prices for dairy farmers who are demanding a fair price for GM free milk.
A few days later, on Thursday 3rd March, around 25 camapigners also shut down the Sainsbury's depot in Haydock, Merseyside [report | pics]. People blockaded the depot by d-locking themselves to gates and blocking the main gate with a vehicle that others then locked themselves too. The blockade lasted for around two and a half hours before specialist police units cut people free.
The actions followed multiple blockades and actions against Sainsbruy's last year - See [Feature from July 04] and previous blockade of Merseyside depot [1 | 2].
On Wednesday 23 February, hundreds of people also took part in a mass lobby outside parliament [report and pics] to demand the right to choose GM-free food, as well as strict laws to prevent GM contamination and make companies liable for any contamination that does occur. While nearly two thirds of people in the UK want tough laws to prevent GM contamination, the Government is apparently planning a legal framework that would allow widespread contamination. A roving bus load of cows also visited supermarkets around Cardiff, awarding the worst offenders with the "Greenpeace Cowpat Award for Supporting GM milk".
See also: Corporate Watch Farm report (pdf) |Genetics Action Sainsubry's briefing (pdf)| Biotech IMC
Sainsbury's suppliers now pay most farmers less for their milk than it costs to produce. 40 dairy farmers are going under every week in Britain at the moment because of the supermarkets pricing policies. This goes hand in hand with the international crisis of biotechnology. Farmers want to avoid GM crops, but the poor payment they currently receive forces many of them to keep using the fractionally cheaper GM contaminated imports. The continuing threat of GM, and the corporate aquisition and gentrification of the countryside, could be stopped if farmers got a fair fraction of the price paid for their milk, and the supermarkets were obliged to keep their 3 year old promise to phase out GM feed.
The mass lobby and rally was organised by Friends of the Earth, the Five Year Freeze, the National Federation of Women's Institutes and the group FARM.
Participants first gathered near Westminster to listen to a group of inspirational speakers - including former Environment Minister Michael Meacher MP, US lawyer and journalist Claire Hope-Cummings and Friends of the Earth's Tony Juniper. The key message was that while campaigners have won many battles on GM, the threat remains.
People lobbied their MPs to take action against GM - including asking them to sign the European GM-free zones petition calling for the right for local and regional authorities to decide whether GM crops are grown in their area - as well as signing the "Bite Back citizen's objection", which calls on the World Trade Organisation to throw out the US-led attempt to force GM into Europe.
On 25th Feb the South West Regional Assembly called for food and farming in the region to be protected from GM crops, and for strict liability on GM companies. The south west is the first region to take an official GM position, reflecting the massive opposition in the region - from both local people and local authorities - to GM food and crops.
See GM-Free Scarecrows