GM Free Cymru

REQUEST FOR SAFEGUARD ACTION - LL601 rice contamination

Open Letter 17 September 2006

Dr Brian Gibbons Minister for Health & Social Services Welsh Assembly Government

Dear Minister,

Thank you for your email of 15 September which was forwarded, on behalf of The Welsh Assembly Government, in response to both of our Open Communications addressed to The First Minister.

You will be aware of our communication to Mr John Harwood, copy below, about the "secret" meeting that Dr Clair Baynton chaired on 5 September, and the advice which was provided to the FSA by certain unnamed members of the ACNFP. This advice underpinned the FSA guidance to the British public that they could go ahead and eat American long grain rice, whether contaminated or not. This advice, despite our protests to the Food Standards Agency, remains on their website at: rice. From the major Press coverage on this issue today, in both The Independent on Sunday and Scottish Herald, it seems increasingly clear that the Food Standards Agency has failed to act in the public interest and, indeed, may have broken the law. It has certainly advised others to break the law, and that is a serious matter. You will be aware that FOE is now taking legal action against FSA on the grounds that it has woefully neglected to do its duty. It is pertinent that: "The Food Standards Agency Board members are appointed to act collectively in the public interest, not represent specific sectors. Members are responsible for overall strategic direction, ensuring the Agency fulfils its legal obligations so that its decisions or action take proper account of scientific advice, the interests of the consumer and other relevant factors."

Clearly there has now been a serious failure by the Food Standards Agency to act in the interests of the consumer, and urgent remedial action is now required by you, to safeguard the health of the people of Wales. Accordingly we request you take immediate action to exercise your authority as laid down at paragraph 24.-(1) of The Food Standards Act 1999:

on the basis that the Agency in Wales has failed to perform its duties (cf Sections 22-25 ). In the absence of any statements from Welsh FSA staff, or from the Welsh FSA Board member, or from the Welsh Food Advisory Committee, it has to be assumed that they are all fully in agreement with what the FSA has been doing in London. That means that they are party to the lying and deceitful behaviour which has today been exposed in the national press. We therefore look to you to "give the Agency such directions as you may consider appropriate for remedying that failure." Those instructions should include an immediate programme of testing for LL601 on American long grain rice products already on shop shelves; a removal of products proved to be at risk (two products on Morrisons shelves have already proved positive for GM contamination); and advice to the public in Wales that they should NOT for the time being consume any products containing American long-grain rice. Those should be minimal first steps in a situation which is evolving rapidly. As this is an exceptionally serious issue (about which we have warned you for at least 3 weeks) we would be grateful for your acknowledgement of receipt of this letter, and for a confirmation that you will now place your firm instructions before FSA Wales.
Yours Sincerely

Ian Panton
GMFree Cymru


1. Open Letter to John Harwood dated 9 September
2. The Independent on Sunday, 17 September 2006. GM: The cover-up
3. The Independent on Sunday, 17 September 2006. Time to guard the
4. Sale of illegal GM rice in Scotland sanctioned by food safety
watchdog, Sunday Herald, 17 September 2006
5. GM Free Cymru Press release 12 September 2006