EXCERPTS: "Now GM companies are effectively sticking two fingers up to the people of Wales, telling them that they're going to have GM anyway."
"It is up to the people of Wales to decide whether they want to grow GM crops in their fields - and overwhelmingly they do not."
Biotech boss slams GM-free Wales
Western Mail, Jun 3 2006
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ONE of the world's leading figures in biotechnology has poured scorn on the aim of Welsh politicians to have a nation free of genetically-modified crops.
Hans Kast, chairman of EuropaBio - the political voice of the biotechnology industry in Europe - and CEO of the plant science group BASF, said European countries which did not want approved GM goods "should not be in the EU".
He said, "We cannot accept a situation whereby these products are proved safe and then countries say we do not want this product ... They should get out of the EU and say we want to be on our own."
When asked, in the interview for eupolitix.com, about the aspiration for a GM-free Wales, he said, "I have not heard that the people of Wales want to be GM free. Would Wales be allowed to say we don't want to have cars?"
Mr Kast believes that the US will have a more competitive agriculture industry unless Europe embraces biotechnology.
A Greenpeace spokesman said, "This shows once more how detached from reality the GM industry really is. Wales has quite rightly decided to declare itself a GM-free zone because these crops could cause irreversible environmental damage.
"Now GM companies are effectively sticking two fingers up to the people of Wales, telling them that they're going to have GM anyway. If that happens then organic farming in Wales could become a thing of the past."
Mick Bates, environment spokesman for the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said, "Wales' growing reputation for green, clean, organic farming is a valuable niche for our farmers. It is up to the people of Wales to decide whether they want to grow GM crops in their fields - and overwhelmingly they do not."
Elin Jones, Plaid's Shadow Minister for Countryside, said, "We believe that growing GM crops in Wales would not offer any economic advantages to the farming industry. Consumers throughout Europe have expressed their opposition to GM produce, but what we are seeing is a growth in demand for organic produce.
"Plaid Cymru believes that producers in Wales can benefit from being able to market their produce as being GM-free."
Brynle Williams, Conservative countryside spokesman, said, "Our policy is to keep Wales GM-free... for the simple reason the agricultural industry has had too many food scares over the last 20 years."
An Assembly Government spokesman said, "[Our] policy is to take forward the most restrictive approach to the commercialisation of GM crops that is consistent with UK and EU law. This reflects concerns that have been expressed about GM commercialisation and we are determined to protect the rights of farmers and consumers in choosing what they grow and buy.
"We are therefore determined to take forward the most restrictive crop policy possible through the introduction of a strict co-existence regime between GM, traditional and organic forms of agriculture."