Funding cuts mean that the UK’s umbrella campaign challenging the use of GM in food and farming is facing permanent closure this summer. GM Freeze needs £25,000 to keep going but supporters are being asked to chip in £7,000 to ensure that, if the closure goes ahead, it happens in a way that helps others keep fighting for a responsible, fair and sustainable food system.
GM Freeze has helped keep GM out of UK farmers’ fields since 1999 but the UK Government’s approach to Brexit and international trade deals could undo everything that GM Freeze and others have achieved in the past 21 years. GM Freeze’s work is as vital as ever, but the campaign group is likely to close this summer due to the loss of core funding grants that can be spent on the most urgent work, as it arises. GM Freeze needs £25,000 of additional core income to be able to operate year-round and respond to urgent situations like GM field trials, government bills, consultations and breaking news. Knowing that this is a big ask, the team are instead looking for £7,000 to allow GM Freeze close in a way that will be helpful for others engaged in the fight for a responsible, fair and sustainable food system.
GMWatch director Jonathan Matthews said: “Here in the UK we face the unprecedented challenges of Brexit, a GMO-loving prime minister, and the looming threat of a trade deal with the US – bringing with it the prospect of unlabelled and potentially dangerous GMOs arriving on our supermarket shelves. We simply can’t afford to weaken the campaign now or in the near future.”
Jonathan Matthews added, “The Freeze is not asking for money to stay open indefinitely just because they know it isn’t the most likely scenario. However, it isn’t impossible and if enough donations come in, it will happen. And that would be the best outcome!”
GMWatch editor Claire Robinson said, “GMWatch is good at flagging up important and developing GM issues worldwide, but when it comes to campaigning and applying pressure in the UK, GM Freeze has both the expertise and a proven track record.”
GM Freeze Director Liz O’Neill put the request into context. “Everyone is coping with new and frightening realities right now so we spent a long time considering whether or not we should appeal for donations while there is such urgent need elsewhere. However, our existing supporters have really stepped up, giving over £4,000 in just few days. I know that there are others who value our work and want to see it continue one way or another, so it feels right to go public with the appeal and create a legacy that we can be proud of.”
If closure can’t be averted, then donations will be used to share widely the results of ongoing GM Freeze projects (on campaigning strategy and the way that language is used to control public discussion of GMOs); to set up new ways for GM Freeze’s wide network of members and supporters to keep connected; and to archive the campaign group’s large library of resources in way that will be accessible for those who want to continue to challenge the use of GM in our food and on our farms.
Donations can be made online at www.gmfreeze.org/donate
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