[UK] Food Standards Agency not sentenced in GM rice case

On February 22, a High Court judge ruled that the UK Food Standards Agency did not violate the law in its response to the GM rice contamination in the last year. Nevertheless, the judge reproached the agency for making mistakes.

In response to the contamination of European food chains with the illegal GM rice LL601 in 2006, the environmental organisation Friends of the Earth (FoE) had accused the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) of failure to fulfil its food inspection obligations. The organisation claimed that the FSA should have done more to work with local authorities and with the food industry to ensure that illegal GM rice was detected and removed from shelves and other areas of the market.

In a Judicial Review, a High Court judge found the food authority not to be guilty in legal terms, but to have made several mistakes in handling the emergency.

Friends of the Earth stated that the organisation was "disappointed" that the judge did not find the FSA to have acted unlawfully. However, FoE campaigner Clare Oxborrow affirmed that the organisation was satisfied with the recognition that the FSA had committed a number of errors in its management of the situation.

The FSA stated that it was "pleased" with the judgement. The authority announced plans to review internally its response to the contamination case, and to take into account the criticisms of the judge. Oxborrow declared her hopes that the review process will be "open and honest and that the mistakes made are not repeated in the future."

United Kingdom

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