Groups and organizations representing 57 million Americans signed an open letter to British citizens earlier this month warning the British citizensof the potential dangers of GMOs.
The United Kingdom has yet to adopt genetically modified food and farming in the same way the US– where 70 percent of all processed food now contains GMOs. The letter, which was published in The Times newspaper and advertised on a digital billboard at London Waterloo, the UK’s busiest train station, highlighted the problems and challenges faced by American farmers, consumers and others over the past two decades of using GM technology.
It was signed by NGOs, trade groups and businesses such as Food & Water Watch, the Sierra Club, the Rachel Carson Council, Friends of the Earth, the Organic Consumers Association, Dr. Bronner’s, and NYR Organic, as well as high-profile individuals, including Susan Sarandon, Daryl Hannah, Frances Fisher, Robert Kennedy Jr, Wendyl Berry and Tommy Hilfiger.
The powerfully written document was a joint effort between campaigners in the UK and the US, which included Pamm Larry (Label GMOs, and the instigator of Prop 37 in California) and Diana Reeves (GMO Free USA). The two women flew to London to hand-deliver the letter to the British Prime Minister’s residence at Downing Street, alongside fashion designer, Vivienne Westwood, top UK chef Valentine Warner, British MPs, and Beyond GM’s Pat Thomas.
The fully-referenced letter argues that GM crops have never delivered on their promises to increase yields and profits or decrease pesticide use. In fact, the letter states that GMO crops have done the opposite, with the cost of growing GM crops now greater than conventional crops in the US, and pesticide use 24% higher amongst GM farmers than non-GM farmers planting the same crops.
It also details the environmental harm caused by this increased herbicide use, which has led to the destruction of vital insect and bee populations, damaged soil structure, and made essential micronutrients unavailable to plants and our food.
The American signatories urge the British to use the American's experience as a warning not to invest is this “failing agricultural technology,” and to speak out before it’s too late. The letter comes at a critical time as the European Parliament will vote in the next couple of months whether to allow member states to decide for themselves to grow GM crops or not. If this legislation is passed, the UK, which has a pro-GM government, could see the planting of commercial GM crops within the next 6 to 18 months.
Actress Susan Sarandon lent her voice to the debate, saying “Instead of bringing certainty and security, GMOs have raised more and more worrying questions about their effectiveness, their necessity, and even their safety. Polls show that the majority of US citizens – and in fact citizens everywhere – either want them labelled or taken out of the food system altogether.”
Activist attorney Robert Kennedy Jr. adds, “An informed and engaged public is one of our greatest weapons against widespread threats to health and environmental justice. Initiatives like The Letter from America highlight clearly the problems we have faced in the US in the 17 years we have been planting and eating GMOs.”
Since the letter was published two weeks ago, groups and individuals representing a further million Americans have signed on including physician and author, Deepak Chopra and actress Sara Gilbert. You can sign on at www.theletterfromamerica.org.