Untested and in here - Sainsburys GM feed week

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Sainsburys Week Logo

12.06.2005

On Sunday (12th June), eight protesters stripped naked to expose the continued sale of products derived from animals fed on genetically modified crops. The naked demo preceded a separate week long series of events outside Sainsbury head office in London. The Milk Monitor website describes the campaign as "a week long extravaganza of street theatre & protests against GM animal feed".

Sainsburys Naked Sunday 1
Sainsburys Naked Sunday 2

Eight naked protesters exposed themselves in front of Sainsbury HQ in the City Of London today to demand that sainsbury fullfils it's promise on ending the sale of products from animals fed on GM.

The protesters where painted with letters spelling out NO GM MILK and carried a banner reading 'GM Fed Dairy - Untested and in Here!'

The brief photo shoot ended as the armed response police unit arrived... not quite sure what they had been told was happening!

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Five years ago Sainsbury's promised to phase out GM feed from the diets of the herds that produce their dairy products. So far they have failed to do so. The public is largely unaware of the presence of imported GM crops in the food chain because meat, milk and other products from animals fed GM feed are not labelled.

All this week (13th - 17th June), Sainsbury's staff at the company's London headquarters will be greeted by a series of anti-GM demonstrations as part of a Europe-wide action against GM.

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Sainsburys WI Monday 1
Sainsburys WI Monday 2
Sainsburys WI Monday 3

On Monday, the a groups of protesters from the womens institute came down to express their concerns and serve organic milk and biscuits. On hand to help out was 'Jeeves' the butler who was also ready to answer any questions by-passers or employees might have regarding Sainsburys position on GM animal fed and how it could now threaten the availability of non-GM ingredients in all our food regardless of where we choose to shop.

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Sainsburys Brazil Tuesday 1
Sainsburys Brazil Tuesday 3
Sainsburys Brazil Tuesday 2

Tuesday brought the sound of brazilan samba and dancers, much to the enjoyment of most present. Nether-the-less, a large number of Sainsburys staff do seem to be permanantly sad looking. Why the Brazilian theme? Brazil is set to follow the same detructive GM soya route that has already proved devastating to Argentinas small farmers and ecology.

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Sainsburys Farmers Wednesday 1
Sainsburys Farmers Wednesday 3
Sainsburys Farmers Wednesday 2

On Wednesday, the hevens opened in sympathy with British farmers and blessed the gathering of farmers and the small herd of pantomime cows that braved the rain to hand out leaflets to the even more depressed looking Sainsburys employees.

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Sainsburys Business Thursday 1
Sainsburys Business Thursday 2
Sainsburys Business Thursday 3

Thursday was the day for experts and the business community to put their arguments to Sainsbury's on why support for GM makes no economic sense. Micheal Meacher, the ex-minister for the environment, also joined the demo.

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Sainsburys family Friday 3
Sainsburys family Friday 2
Sainsburys family Friday 1

Final demo - family day

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Women's Institute leaflet text:

WHERE DOES YOUR MILK COME FROM

At the Women's Institute we've been campaigning for safe food for nearly 100 years.

We're disappointed that Sainsbury's have failed to keep their promise to phase out GM feed to the animals that provide the companies milk and meat.

Given the environmental social and health problems associated with the technology, we are especially concerned about the lack of labeling of such products.

The controversy surrounding GM crops mean that Sainsbury's have a duty to inform their customers about it's presence in the food chain.

We believe your current policy is depriving customers of the information they need to make choices about their food.

NO MORE EXCUSES PLEASE.

A recent survey of 400 Sainsbury's customers showed that 99% believe GM fed milk and meat should be labeled as such.

While we applaud Sainsbury's move to introduce a trial range of non-GM fed milk, we are concerned that this is only available in a limited number of stores and as a specialist more expensive product.

Marks & Spencer sell non-GM fed milk as standard, and the Co-op are now almost entirely GM-fed milk free.

In recent months all the stores we have visited which are trialing Non-GM fed milk have failed to carry the leaflet explaining Sainsbury's milk policy.

Last year the Women's Institute AGM strengthened the orgaisations opposition to GM crops. This year it has taken a stand on the poverty milk prices currently paid to British farmers. We believe these issues to be inextricably linked, and ask that Sainsbury's reconsider both their continued use of GM feed imports, and the low prices paid to farmers for their products.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION. THE MILK AND BISCUITS WE'RE OFFERING THIS MORNING ARE ORGANIC. WE HOPE THAT YOU ENJOY THEM AND HAVE A GOOD DAY.

Farmers' leaflet text:

The Daily Moosletter from UK farmers. Wednesday 15th.
Why farmers want the GM out of Animal Feed.

As a coalition of independent farmers unions, we've got a lot to deal with at the moment. It's silage season for a start. But we're seriously concerned about the effects Sainsbury's milk policy is having on our farms.

British agriculture has already had its fingers burnt by taking short cuts with animal feed. We think it's important to apply the lessons of BSE to the current situation of GM animal feed imports.

At the moment so little is known about the effects of GM animal feed on our herds, or the people who drink their milk, that no one will insure for the risks associated with it. Despite repeated reassurances from the biotech companies that GM crops are safe, all the corporations refuse to accept liability for their products if things go wrong.

If it's so bad, why are we using it?

Naturally we'd rather avoid using GM feed, but the current milk market makes this extremely difficult for many farmers. Milk prices are so low now that many farmers are producing milk at a loss. Farmers' earnings are often less than the minimum wage, and an average of 40 UK farms a week are going bankrupt because of unfair pricing.

Ironically, it is no more expensive to grow non-GM crops. Most farmers overseas are not paid any premium for their non-GM produce. It is the deliberate mixing of the GM and the non-GM during shipment, by grain barons like Cargil. which artificially creates a more expensive non-GM feed.

We need Sainsbury's to halt the steady collapse of the British dairy industry by paying us a fair price for our milk. In the short term we need them to band together with other UK retailers and make contracts with non-GM growers in Brazil, to ensure the future supply of non-GM soya and maize. IN the long term we need the financial breathing space to convert to more sustainable forms fo farming, that are not dependent on imports.

As your producers we believe GM animal feed should be phased out. We need to be paid a fair price so we can do this.

You will gratefully note that despite the provocation this leaflet has not resorted any cow puns about pulling the udder one or having herd it all before.

Business community leaflet text:

The Daily Moosletter
from the buisness community 16 June

GM Contamination – an economic liability

You are being leafleted today by Company Directors and some of Britain's leading GM food and crop researchers. Joining us is Micheal Meacher, former UK Environment Minister, who oversaw the only large scale trial of GM in the world.

We have direct experience of the problems of cross-contamination between GM crops (both licensed and unlicensed) and conventional crops. We are concerned both about the economic impact of GM contamination on UK food manufacturers and about legal implications if illegally contaminated products harm customers.

Incidents of GM contamination have globally cost food businesses well over $1,000,000,000. Often foods for human consumption have been contaminated by experimental GM crops or by corps only approved for animals. Contamination by GM animal feed harms food companies because...

1)Products and ingredients have to be recalled.
2)Brand image is harmed, Ingredients need expensive genetic testing for contamination.
3)Insurance is needed to cover possible liability for the effects of illegal contaminants.

A new generation of GM pharmacutical corps that are an even more serious threat to food companies and consumers are now being grown in America. Medical drugs in food could kill customers or bankrupt manufacturers.

Examples of expensive GM contamination.

In March 2005, the journal Nature revealed that Syngenta, had mistakenly produced and distributed an unapproved GM maize known as Bt10 instead of its Bt11 variety. Several hundred tonnes of the maize had been sold across the USA before the mistake was discovered by another plant breeding company. Both Bt10 and Bt11 maize are genetically modified to contain a gene from the soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringensis, which produces an insecticidal Bt toxin. The Bt10 maize, which is not approved for sale in any nation, also contains a gene coding for resistance to the widely used antibiotic ampicillin. In May 2005 , Ireland found illegal Bt10 in a shipment of maize gluten from the USA and reported contamination in shipments from the USA.

In September 200, sampling by a coaliton of public interest groups in the US, showed that a variety of of GM maize known as Starlink was present in taco shells bing sold for human consumption even though it was only approved for feedign to animals. Before the Starlink maize contamination was detected, it was exported from the US and is is still turning up in many nations. Recall of contaminated products, together with segregation, testin and prevention, has so far cost businesses billions of dollars.

Since 1995 there have been 63 such recorded incidents of GM contamination, 10 illegal GM crop releases and 6 negative agricultural side-effects. These are documented at www.gmcontaminationregister.org

Family leaflet text:

Parents and kids

We have children, a lot of your customers do. You might even have some. It's easy to sound trite about how we feel about their future and about the problems of keeping them safe as they grow up. But we think we have good reason to be worried, and we need your help to make the world a bit safer for them.

Every day for a week a different group of people, expressing a different concern about GM crops, has been protesting here. We want Sainsbury's to stop selling milk, meat and dairy products from animals fed GM.

We need Sainsbury's policy to change because of the health risks to our kids and ourselves. Contamination of approved GM varieties by the new toxic varieties of 'pharmacutical' GM crops means that a technology whose safety is already in question is now becoming even more dangerous. The hope that these risks do not pass from the animal into its milk is illogical to any mother. Doctors give clear guidelines on avoiding excessive alcohol when breastfeeding because milk is known to take on the flavour and characteristics of that which produced it. Without rigorous testing we think it's reckless to assume otherwise.

We need Sainsbury's policy to change because we want the choice of GM free food ingredients. Without the support of a GM free animal feed market in Brazil, the last country to supply uncontaminated soya will fall to the biotech companies. Then there will be no source for the soya used in chocolate, cakes and other processed food. This would be a betrayal of your customers clear demand for non-GM food.

We also need Sainsbury's policy to change because we don't want them to live in a world where life is patented, where a small cartel of Biotech companies control food from the seed to the plate. We don't want them to face a future where the poor are forced from their land to make way for industrial agriculture. Where families in places like Argentina loose their crops because planes from neighbouring soya plantations? spray herbicide on their fields, wiping out their livelihoods and makeing their children sick.

We want a just food system, where buying a yogurt doesn't inadvertenetly support ecological damage and social hardship.

If you really want to make life taste better, please get the GM out of animal feed.

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For further details, see http://www.milkmonitor.co.nr/
For further info on genetics & action you can take, see http://www.geneticsaction.org.uk/