The Gloves are on! GM Pledge Throws Down The Green Gauntlet To (23/9/2003)

The Gloves are on!
GM Pledge Throws Down The Green Gauntlet To Blair
For immediate release     Wednesday 24th Sept 2003

A pledge to pull up GM crops was launched today as the results of the Government's public debate on genetic modification were announced in London.[1] The Green Gloves Pledge, a pledge to peacefully remove GM crops or support those who do [2], was formally announced this morning with the delivery of a six and half foot green glove to Tony Blair at the gates of Downing Street bearing the question "Which part of No GM do you not understand?". An accompanying letter to the Prime Minister was also handed in.

Delivering the glove, Kathryn Tulip, one of the organisers of Green Gloves pledge said.

"Once again Tony Blair looks set to ignore the overwhelming sentiment of the British people who do not want GM. The British people have clearly said no to GM again and again. Now we are underlining our resolve with a promise of action - either this government agrees to deliver a GM-free Britain or a nation of gardeners will put on their gloves and take that decision into their own hands. We are here to let him know that for every GM plant he allows to be planted there will be many pairs of hands willing to pull them up again."

The launch of the Green Gloves pledge to pull up GM crops comes as new leaked letters from Margaret Beckett suggest the Government is still intending to press ahead with GM crop commercialisation despite the clear public sentiment against GM expressed in the Public Debate. The government's own advisors recently warned in an economic review of GM crops that there were no near term benefits for UK economy and that any decision to press ahead with GM could result in widespread civil unrest. Tony Blair's decision to hire Monsanto spin doctor David Hill further suggests that the PM is once again going to ignore public opinion in what former environment Minister Michael Meacher has called Blair's "Iraq mark II".

Although it has not been formally announced until today already many hundreds of people have signed the pledge including farmers, scientists, clergy and politicians. The names of those pledging are currently being kept confidential but the number signing will regularly be made public, starting on October 16 when the results of the Farm Scale Evaluations of GM crops is announced. A similar 'green gloves pledge' launched in New Zealand to stave off the lifting of the GM moratorium there, gathered over 3000 names in 12 weeks of people willing to pull up GM crops. The UK organisers also expect thousands to sign the pledge in the UK, increasing pressure on the government as it enters the run up to the next election.


Contact (24 September only): 07752 106 806 (Lawrence) or 07796 430 141 (Kathryn)

The Green Gloves Pledge
16b Cherwell Street, Oxford, OX4 1BG.
01865 243 772 (24 September only) 01865 727 972 (after 25 September)
[email protected]

Notes to Picture Editors
Photographs and video footage available from Hugh Warwick 07815 042 452

Notes to Editors
1.The results of the GM nation public debate are due to be announced at a press conference today, Wednesday 24th September, 10.00am at Institute of Civil Engineers, 1 Great George Street, SW1 (off parliament Square).
2.The Green Gloves Pledge states "If the UK Government gives the go-ahead to commercialise the growing of GM crops against the overwhelming wishes of the British public, I pledge to non-violently remove GM crops from the ground or support those who take action to remove GM crops". The pledge can be signed online at www.greengloves.org or by text message or by post.
Green Gloves
16 B Cherwell Street, Oxford, OX4 1DD

Prime Minister Tony Blair,
10 Downing Street,
London, SW1A 2AA

Tuesday 23 September 2003
Dear Tony Blair

I write to you on behalf of the hundreds of people who've already signed the Green Gloves Pledge - a pledge to peacefully remove Genetically Modified crops or support those who do, if GM crops are grown commercially. The collection of pledges is continuing and the number of signatories is expected to be in the thousands within weeks. A similar pledge in New Zealand collected 3,000 pledges in 12 weeks.

There are so many ways in which the British public have said no to GM food and crops. Numerous polls since 1996 show a consistent 'no thank-you' to GM food and crops. Pollsters MORI show that support for GM food has fallen and is now only 14% of those surveyed. When the Euro-barometer looked closer, they discovered that the more people knew about GM crops the louder they said NO.

When Monsanto's advertising campaign ran back in 1998, they said "we want to hear your opinion". In response Monsanto's own pollster noted a 'society wide collapse of support for GM foods'. Today Monsanto no longer even try to grow GM crops in the UK.

Then there was the rush from the shelves. Supermarkets and food producers who admitted carrying GM in their own food were punished at the checkouts. Hundreds of thousands of customers phoned up and politely explained what NO meant . UK Supermarkets and food producers now say that they can not imagine re-stocking GM foods in the foreseeable future.

And then there were the parents. School cafeteria after school cafeteria were told by parent governors to stop feeding children GM foods and complied. The local  authorities extended their non GM policies to other cafeterias and even the prisoners received non-GM grub after the inmates started saying NO.

There was even a little 'yes' that was really a great big NO! Sales of organic food started growing faster than the computer industry, and hundreds of celebrity chefs from Nigella to Anthony Worral Thompson stopped arguing over pesto and agreed that GM was one thing they could all say NO to.

Then there was the aid agencies - Christian Aid, Action Aid and others pointing out that that GM crops had no part to play in solving world hunger - another lie nailed, another simple NO.

Then there was Middle England. The rank and file of the Women's Institute, The Townswomen's Guild, the RSPB, church groups all passing motions saying NO to GM. Not to mention the 120 national organisations calling for a freeze on GM. Was  your government listening?

Then there were the public meetings, thousands of impassioned public forums in little village halls up and down the country as community after community impressed on their farming neighbours that the greasy pound for planting a 'trial crop of GM' was poor recompense for loss of community trust.

Then there was the non-violent action pulling-up GM crops, thousands of people by night and day, removing GM crops from the ground, held up as heroes. Even Tommy Archer had a go. When the magistrates and Jurors were asked whether these people were guilty of a crime, they  joined in and also said NO.

When GM food and Crops were themselves put on trial by several independent citizen's jury's, both in the UK and abroad, then they decided that the introduction of GM food or crops should be stopped.

Then there were the investors. Deutsche Bank declaring 'GMO's are Dead!', Swiss Reinsurance  saying they wouldn't insure GM with a bargepole and Monsanto's share price ringing at its rock bottom lowest .. the 'NO's it seemed could be heard as far as Wall Street and the City.

And then there are increasing number of the GM-Free local authorities - from Cornwall to Cumbria to the Welsh Assembly. No-go areas for GM food and crops.

When your own Cabinet Office were asked if there was an economic case for GM the answer was a sheepish NO.  And now belatedly, the under-funded public debate, 'GM Nation?' in which 20,000 people participated is to say 'NO', according to the head of the committee overseeing it.

Recent messages from your ministers indicate that you intend to press ahead with GM commercialisation regardless and we are left wondering which part of NO GM  you did not understand? You have recently said that you intend to listen more to the public than you may have in the past. In that spirit will you now announce that your government will respect the clear wishes of the British people and halt the commercialisation of  GM crops in this country?

I look forward to receiving your reply

Yours sincerely
Andrew Wood, on behalf of Green Gloves.

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