Scottish anger as new UK minister backs GM crops
2.Minister: Britain will open the door to GM food
3.David Cameron warns lobbying is next political scandal
EXTRACT: [The Minister] Mrs Spelman set up a food and biotechnology lobbying company Spelman, Cormack and Associates with her husband, Mark Spelman, in 1989. Although she resigned as a company director last year, the firm remains in the hands of her husband. (item 2)
TAKE ACTION: Suggest those writing to their MPs about the taxpayers money being wasted on the rigged FSA "dialogue", may also want to tell them about their extreme concern at this Ministerial statement. There was nothing in either coalition Party's manifesto saying: "We want to be the most pro-GM Government ever". That would have been a real vote loser and Spelman has no mandate for such a policy approach. She should be sacked, particularly given her lobbying background. David Cameron has already identified commercial lobbying as the next big political scandal waiting to break and vowed to "take the power away from the political elite and hand it to the man and woman on the street." (item 3)
1.Holyrood anger as new UK minister backs GM crops
The Scotsman, 5 June 2010
THE Scottish and UK governments could be set for a clash over controversial genetically modified (GM) crops after a key Tory minister appeared to back growing them in Britain.
The newly installed UK Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, said she was in favour of GM foods "in the right circumstances" during a newspaper interview.
However, the Scottish Government rushed to make clear its "fundamental" opposition to the move, which could potentially mean GM crops being grown in Border areas such as Northumberland and Cumbria, affecting Scotland.
The threat of a row emerged after it was announced that the European Union was to consider giving greater freedom to its commissioners to approve new GM varieties for cultivation in return for letting member states decide whether or not to grow them.
But the comments from the Environment Secretary suggested that the new Tory-Lib Dem coalition is about to become the most pro-GM government yet.
Ms Spelman said that taxpayers' cash should not be used to promote crops, but that the new minister of state in her department, Lord Henley, had already approved a trial involving potatoes.
She said: "GM can bring benefits in food to the marketplace. The sale should not be promoted by the taxpayer.
"Lord Henley has approved a trial of a potato blight-resistant variety. That's the kind of modification that can reduce the amount of agro-chemicals which need to be applied."
The minister went on to say that developing countries could benefit from GM crops.
She said: "There are benefits to developing countries, like drought resistance or resistance to high salt content in water.
"The principle of GM technology is (OK] if used well. The technology can be beneficial."
However, the Scottish Government called for alternatives to GM crops.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "(We are] fundamentally opposed to the cultivation of GM crops in Scotland and we welcomed the European Commission's recent initiative to allow countries the right to decide whether or not to grow GM crops.
"We are keen to explore alternative options to GM and currently invest over GBP13 million a year in crop research."
2.Minister: Britain will open the door to Frankenstein food
By James Chapman
Daily Mail, 5 June 2010
Genetically modified crops were last night given enthusiastic backing by the Environment Secretary.
Caroline Spelman shocked colleagues by suggesting that the coalition government will take a more pro-GM stance than its Labour predecessor.
The Tories have traditionally taken a sceptical approach to so-called 'Frankenstein foods', and at present no GM varieties are cultivated commercially in the UK.
Despite little appetite for the so-called 'Frankenstein food' in Britain, a change in EU rules could open the floodgates for member countries to plant new GM varieties.
Labour ministers shied away from promoting GM foods in recent years over concerns about a public backlash.
But Mrs Spelman insisted last night they could bring 'benefits to food in the marketplace'.
Her intervention drew fierce criticism from anti-GM campaigners, who accused her of getting her facts wrong and highlighted her background as a lobbyist for biotechnology.
Mrs Spelman set up a food and biotechnology lobbying company Spelman, Cormack and Associates with her husband, Mark Spelman, in 1989. Although she resigned as a company director last year, the firm remains in the hands of her husband.
Yesterday Mrs Spelman said she was in favour of GM foods 'in the right circumstances', though she insisted they should not be promoted using public money and expressed concerns-about some aspects of the technology. 'GM can bring benefits in food to the marketplace. The sale should not be promoted by the taxpayer,' she said.
'Lord Henley [the new environment minister] has approved a trial of a potato blight-resistant variety. That's the kind of modification that can reduce the amount of agro-chemicals which need to be applied.'
She added: 'There are benefits to developing countries, like drought resistance or resistance to high salt content in water. The principle of GM technology is [ok] if used well. The technology can be beneficial.'
EU pushes for more GM crops
However, she criticised Labour's GBP500,000 official public consultation into genetically modified food, which is in turmoil following protests that it has been rigged. This week, two academics on a Food Standards Agency committee resigned in protest saying they could not support a spin exercise to promote GM food.
'The Food Standards Agency should not be spending taxpayers' money promoting GM foods,' Mrs Spelman said. Aides insisted last night that the minister had been speaking before any firm policy on GM crops has been established.
Pete Riley, director of GM Freeze, welcomed her remarks about the GM consultation. But he added: 'The Secretary of State needs to check very carefully before making claims about
'There are no salt tolerant or drought resistant crops on the market and none seem likely in the foreseeable future.
'Non-GM blight resistant potatoes are already on the market, whilst the GM ones are still being developed despite a £1.7million investment of public money to date.
'Mrs Spelman needs to be very careful in how she deals with GM issues given her background as a lobbyist in the area and should take advice from a far wider spectrum before making policy.'
Mrs Spelman also said she would block the practice of building on green belt and create new green belt areas.
She confirmed that badgers would be culled in England and that there would be a free vote on repealing Labour's hunting ban.
3.David Cameron warns lobbying is next political scandal
Andrew Porter, Political Editor
Daily Telegraph, 8 Feb 2010
David Cameron will introduce measures to curb the lobbying industry to ensure that attempts by business to seek influence on Government policy does not become the next big political scandal.
He promised a Conservative government would stop the lobbying industry’s attempts through former ministers to access and influence policy.
His attack on "crony capitalism" came in a speech in which he attempted to tackle Britain’s "broken politics.”
He said: “Now we all know that expenses has dominated politics for the last year. But if anyone thinks that cleaning up politics means dealing with this alone and then forgetting about it, they are wrong. Because there is another big issue that we can no longer ignore.
"It is the next big scandal waiting to happen. It's an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long, an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money."
The Conservative leader said that the “GBP2 billion industry” has a big presence at Westminster and take in some cases MPs are approached more than 100 times a week by lobbyists.”
He said he wanted to shine “the light of transparency” on lobbying so that politics “comes clean about who is buying power and influence.”
Current guidelines that say ex-ministers cannot start lobbying government for 12 months after leaving office. That will be doubled to two years and anyone who ignores that rule will have to give up their ministerial pension, Mr Cameron said.
David Miller of the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency welcomed Mr Cameron's admission that something needs to be done about lobbying.
But he added: “If they are serious about listening to ordinary people, the Conservative Party must pledge to introduce a mandatory register of lobbyists as soon as possible so that the public can see who is lobbying whom, and the extent to which national policies are being influenced by commercial forces.”
Mr Cameron also used the speech to attack Gordon Brown for failing to get a grip of the reform of the Commons in the wake of the expenses scandal.
However, the Conservative leader removed from his speech the line where he referred to Gordon Brown tolerating “the disgusting sight of Labour MPs taking parliamentary privilege” to try and keep their expenses cases out of court.
That came in the wake of condemnation from Number 10 and Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader, that Mr Cameron was playing politics with what is a judicial matter. Miss Harman was furious at the language Mr Cameron used to describe Labour’s role in the saga and warned it could even jeopardise the case.
Mr Cameron also said a Tory government would “empower” Parliament. He vowed to “take the power away from the political elite and hand it to the man and woman on the street.”
He added: “It's absurd that a tiny percentage of the population craft legislation that will apply to one hundred per cent of the population. Instead of locking people out of this process, we need to invite them in. So we'll create a right of initiative nationally, where any petition that collects one hundred thousand signatures will be eligible to be formally debated in the House of Commons. Any petition with a million signatures will allow members of the public to table a Bill that could end up being debated and voted on by MPs.
“And we will also introduce a new Public Reading Stage for Bills to give the public an opportunity to comment on new legislation.”