Matrix paves way for scrutiny of GM food

Friends of the Earth and Matrix Chambers have won the right to have the government’s policy on the import of genetically modified (GM) rice scrutinised by the High Court.

The group’s head of legal Phil Michaels, instructing Matrix Chambers’ David Wolfe, applied for judicial review of the Food Standards Agency’s alleged failure to prevent GM rice from the US from entering the British food chain.

The case follows a recent emergency European Commission decision ordering that long-grain rice being imported from the US be tested to ensure it is fit for human consumption. Experimental rice from a crop grown by BayerCropSciences in the US has contaminated commercial supplies which have been exported globally.

This morning (21 November), Mr Justice Crane gave the go-ahead for a full judicial review hearing of the case “as soon as possible”.

Both sides will bear their own costs for the hearing, which is likely to take place early in the New Year.

Lawyers from the Department of Work and Pensions have instructed Blackstone Chambers’ Dinah Rose QC for the Food Standards Agency.

The case follows Friends of the Earth’s success earlier this year in forcing a government U-turn over the duties of companies to report on their environmental and social impact.