Assembly will take toughest line on GM
'There was unanimous cross-party support for the motion, which called on the Assembly government to adopt the most legally restrictive policy over GM crops, regardless of the UK Government position.
'The stand recognised the "significant danger they pose to the organic industry and the potential risks to human health, animal health and the environment".'
Assembly will take toughest line on GM
Daily Post, Oct 8 2003
By Tom Bodden Welsh Affairs Correspondent
WALES will adopt the most restrictive legal stand against the growing of genetically modified crops, Environment Minister Carwyn Jones declared yesterday.
The Assembly government backed a Plaid Cymru-led call to take the most cautious anti-GM position regardless of that adopted in Westminster. The results of Government-sponsored farm-scale evaluation trials of GM crops are due in less than two weeks.
UK environment ministers must consider later the inclusion of the GM maize seed Chardon LL in the approved list for commercial growing in the UK.
Mr Jones told AMs yesterday: "My position has to be guided by the decision of the Assembly to follow the most restrictive policy possible." But he dismissed calls to declare Wales a "GM-free nation" because that would be to mislead the public over the ability to prevent the spread of such products across national boundaries.
"We have to influence what is happening in England. If they are being grown a mile or so over the border, it's pretty pointless," he said. "We aren't in a position of open conflict with the UK government. We will continue to influence both the British and importantly European level."
Already in Europe five nations had supported the principle of "GM free zones", with only two, Spain and Portugal, against, he said.
Plaid Cymru's Shadow Environment Minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas insisted that Wales should remain free of GM-crops to protect the organic and green marketing image for Welsh producers.
He welcomed the findings of the GM Nation report which found out of 37,000 people more than half did not want such crops grown in the UK. "Do we want to be in the position of encouraging the development of these crops when we don't know the effect on human health?"
Now the EU Commissioner, David Byrne conceded that European rules would not prevent the UK from banning GM crops, if it wanted to do so. Leaked documents suggested that Margaret Beckett, the Westminster Environment Minister, planned to give GMs to go-ahead. But PlaidCymru AM Leanne Wood said that to do so would amount to "Iraq Mark II".
"There's no supporting evidence, the public don't like it, and the Government seems determined to overrule the opposition," she said.
There was unanimous cross-party support for the Plaid motion, which called on the Assembly government to adopt the most legally restrictive policy over GM crops, regardless of the UK Government position.
The stand recognised the "significant danger they pose to the organic industry and the potential risks to human health, animal health and the environment".
Tearing Down Biotech's 'Berlin Wall'
EXCERPT: "Proponents of GM crops claim that public fears over GM risks are exaggerated and way beyond what is justified by 'scientific' risk assessments. But that is exactly the type of situation where attractive highly profitable insurance business can be done. Yet the insurance sector is deliberately avoiding such business. Why? It seems clear that they are well aware that the science is immature and that the assessment of GM related risks may be operating well beyond the capacity of science to identify them in advance of their widespread use. It is that scientific immaturity which goes to the heart of the debate and concern about GMOs. Why are we unwilling to recognise that reality politically when the de facto actions of commerce and industry confirm that internally they recognise it economically?"
Tearing Down Biotech's 'Berlin Wall' - 4 May 2003