MPs revolt against GM plans

By Marie Woolf, Chief Political Correspondent
06 March 2004


Plans for the first commercial GM crops to be cultivated in 
Britain are irresponsible, MPs said yesterday in a Commons 
report which said more tests were needed before planting.

MPs on the Environmental Audit Select Committee cast severe 
doubts on the farm-scale trials of GM crops, which have 
formed the basis for the Government's decision to grant 
approval for commercial planting of GM maize.

They warned that trials of the crop were profoundly flawed 
and "the results cannot be regarded as adequate grounds 
for a decision to be taken in favour of commercialisation".

A day earlier, the Cabinet agreed to approve the planting 
of GM maize in Britain, a decision to be announced 
formally to MPs next week. The MPs' report also raised 
fears that organic and conventional crops would be 
contaminated by pollen and GM genes, creating hybrids.

John Whittingdale, the Tory agriculture spokesman, said: 
"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."

The MPs also warned that a powerful herbicide called 
atrazine, which is to be phased out in the UK, was 
used in the trials of the GM maize. But because the 
herbicide would not be used on commercial GM maize 
the evidence from the trials was "irrelevant as a 
benchmark because atrazine has been banned". 

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