GeneWatch UK Press Release
Tuesday 9th March 2004:  For immediate release

UK GOVERNMENT IGNORES SCIENCE, PARLIAMENT AND PUBLIC 
CONCERNS ON GM CROPS.  

GENEWATCH UK RESPONSE TO THE GOVERNMENT'S GM POLICY ANNOUNCEMENT

Today, the UK Government announced its intention in principle 
to proceed with GM crop growing in a move which manages to 
simultaneously ignore:

* its own science review;
* the PM's Strategy Unit assessment of the costs and benefits;
* the House of Commons' Environmental Audit Committee;
* and the 'GM Nation?' public debate.

"The Government has ignored the conclusions of the public debate, 
had no debate in parliament, and given the biotech industry the 
benefit of the doubt about scientific uncertainty." said Dr Sue 
Mayer, GeneWatch UK's Director. "They've betrayed the public's 
trust, no wonder people are cynical about our political system".

"The Government is behaving very arrogantly with GM crops.  They 
claim to be taking a scientific approach, but have closed their 
eyes to the limitations of our knowledge," said Dr Mayer. "The 
Science Review concluded that the public were not anti-science 
and that there are gaps in our knowledge about the issues 
worrying people.  Clearly, the Government is more interested in 
the profits of the biotech industry than good science. Giving 
the go-ahead before any rules are in place to deal with 
contamination or if other things go wrong, shows how little 
regard the Government has for the public, non-GM farmers or the 
environment."

"Questions still hang over the GM maize and the FSE results" 
said Dr. Mayer. "The FSE's have been re-analysed to look at 
the non-GM trials that didn't used atrazine, but this was only 
four sites which is a very limited number. If this was a clinical
test for a new drug we would go back and do the trials again, our 
farm wildlife is in such a precarious state we need to be very 
careful. And farm scale trials are only one part of the GM 
safety jigsaw."

For further information please contact Sue Mayer on 
01298 871898 (office) or 07930 308807

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The Second Report of the Science Review Panel underlined the 
rational nature of the public's concerns: "Far from being 
'anti-science', there was a strong theme in the Public Debate 
for further research to be done."  And "[a]n important outcome
of the Science Review is that many of the uncertainties and gaps 
in knowledge it addressed, for example in long-term impacts on 
health or the environment and the co-existence of GM crops with 
other crops, coincide with concerns expressed during the Public 
Debate."  See: www.gmsciencedebate.org.uk

2. One of the conclusions of the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit 
review of the costs and benefits of GM crops was that: "But no 
procedures can be 100% effective, and there will always be the 
possibility - however small, or disputed - that some unforeseen 
(and possibly unforeseeable) adverse impacts to the environment 
or human health may occur, particularly in the longer-term. The 
potential irreversibility of some of these impacts also has to 
be taken into account when considering this possibility". (Field 
Work. Weighing up the costs and benefits of GM crops. p16)

3. In its conclusions the Environmental Audit Committee stated:  
"We are concerned that the GMHT forage maize trials were based 
on an unsatisfactory, indeed invalid, comparison. It is vital 
that the Government permit no commercial planting of GMHT forage 
maize until that crop is thoroughly re-trialled against a 
non-GM equivalent grown without the use of atrazine."
See: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmenvaud.htm 

4. The public debate conclusions included that: ".... the general 
population would prefer caution: commercialisation of GM crop 
technology should not go ahead without further trials and tests, 
firm regulation, demonstrated benefits to society (not just for 
producers) and, above all, clear and trusted answers to unresolved 
questions about health and the environment" 'GM Nation? The findings 
of the public debate'.


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