New blow to Government on GM/More GM Fields Are Destroyed In France
Yahoo News, Jul. 17, 2003
French biotechnology firm Biogemma has threatened to move its experiments in genetically modified organisms outside of France, possible to the United States, following a new wave of GM field destruction.
One of the company's GM maize fields in southwest France was ransacked overnight, just after President Jacques Chirac agreed to cut a jail term handed to French radical Jose Bove for earlier GM attacks.
"Either we can work in decent conditions or we will have to move our activities abroad, notably to the United States where we already have experiments taking place," says Biogemma chief executive Michel Debrand.
Monsanto has said that attackers also damaged one of its GM maize fields in Montech, France.
"In 2002, we did not have any attacks because there were threats of sanctions and lawsuits with severe jail sentences. But these (sentences) were not upheld and now the attacks have started again," Debrand says. "Let's stop presenting the fight against GM crops as legitimate - it is now an issue of vandalism."
France grows experimental crops on around 100 sites, all approved by the farm ministry.
New blow to Government on GM food as public debate confirms scepticism
By Michael McCarthy Environment Editor
The Independent, 18 July 2003
The leading academic charged with overseeing the Government's public opinion exercise on the introduction of genetically modified crops admitted yesterday that there was widespread scepticism about their benefits.
The conclusion of Professor Malcolm Grant, chairman of the National GM debate, which ends today after more than 450 public meetings, will be another blow to Tony Blair's determined support for GM crops and food.
The debate, which has lasted six weeks, is the Government's much-trumpeted device for letting people have their say. The official report of the debate, thought to be the largest exercise of its kind, will be delivered to the Government at the end of September by Professor Grant, the new provost of University College London. Nearly 20,000 people have responded
Asked about the general mood, he said: "People are precautionary." There was widespread scepticism about GM crops and foods in general.
Professor Grant, formerly pro vice-chancellor of Cambridge University, emphasised that the material had yet to be fully analysed. No specific conclusions could be drawn.
But the scepticism, he said, was partly because people did not trust the agricultural research done by what they saw as private, profit-making companies such as Monsanto, rather than Government's agricultural research stations. It was also because the GM crops proposed - oilseed rape, maize and beet - did not appeal to people. "There is no perception of potential benefits on a consumer level," he said.
Professor Grant's comments will be especially unwelcome to Mr Blair, and to other pro-GM ministers such as Margaret Beckett, the Environment Secretary, and Lord Sainsbury of Turville, the Science minister, as it comes hard on the heels of another official GM exercise which did not go the way the Government may have wished, the Cabinet Office study of GM costs and benefits. This concluded last week that economic benefits from growing GM crops in Britain were likely to be limited.
A third official GM exercise, a review of GM science conducted by a panel led by Professor Sir David King, the Government's chief scientific adviser, will report on Monday.
Whether or not the debate has an influence on the decision to authorise the commercial growth of GM crops in Britain, expected in the autumn, remains to be seen. Mrs Beckett promised to "listen" to the conclusions - but not necessarily to take any account of them.