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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