MPs warn against 'irresponsible' GM decision
e-politix, 5 March 2004
A cross-party committee of Members of Parliament has warned
the government not to give an immediate green light to the
planting of GM crops in the UK.
Reports have suggested that environment secretary Margaret
Beckett will next week give permission for the commercial
production of a GM product named Chardon LL (Liberty Link).
But the Commons environmental audit select committee said
that there were flaws in the government's GM trials.
The report said that a trial of GMHT forage maize was
"unsatisfactory, indeed invalid" because of the pesticide
used on the crops.
"We are very concerned about possible contamination by
gene-flow and pollen spread of non-GM crops and insist
that the issue of liability be settled before any GM
crops are allowed to be commercially grown in the UK,"
The MPs said the UK should wait until further evaluations
have been made of the experience of GM crops in North
The committee added: "The scope of the trials was very
narrow and the results cannot be regarded as adequate
grounds for a decision to be taken in favour of
"It would be irresponsible of the government to permit
the commercialisation of GM crops on the basis of one
narrow component of the entire evaluation of GM technology.
"This would be the case even were there no significant
doubts as to the robustness, validity and relevance of
the FSE results."
Committee chairman Peter Ainsworth said that a government
green light for commercial GM crop planting would be
"irresponsible in the light of the evidence available
from the trials".
"No substantive ministerial announcements should be made
until the government has formally responded to the issues
raised in this report. I am writing to the secretary of
state today to emphasise this point," he added.
Shadow agriculture secretary John Whittingdale said the
report raised "serious concerns about the validity of
the GM crop trials".
"The government must address the real concerns raised by
this report before any further decision is announced
about commercial planting," he added.
"Until the consumer can be satisfied that the production
of GM crops is based on sound and thorough research and
that a clear framework which tackles liability,
contamination and separation is in place, no approvals for
commercial plantings should be given."
Liberal Democrat spokesman Andrew George said the report
had "blown out of the water" the government's case for
allowing the planting of GM crops.
"It would be foolish to decide to grow GM maize in the
UK following such strong cross-party criticism. Decisions
should be based on 'sound' science not the 'make do'
evidence available at present," he said.
"Growing GM crops in Britain won't help the developing
world, we could leave future generations with an unwelcome
legacy and above all people simply don't want the stuff."
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