GM Safety Laws Demanded

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), March 1, 2005 | Go to article overview

GM Safety Laws Demanded


Byline: By STEVE DUBE Western Mail

Farmers joined environmental campaigners and a cross-party group of AMs to demand tough new laws to prevent GM contamination of conventional crops. The Farmers' Union of Wales, Friends of the Earth Cymru, National Federation of Women's Institutes, and the campaign group GM Free Cymru at the National Assembly united to call for strict legislation to prevent contamination of organic and conventional farming if GM crops are grown commercially in the future.

In a joint statement, the four organisations called on the National Assembly to maintain its restrictive policy on the growth of GM crops, ban the growth of specific GM crops, and continue its campaign in Europe to declare Wales GM free.

If this is not successful, the alliance wants legislation on coexistence between GM and conventional or organic crops to be as tough as possible with any additional costs met by the GM industry.

And if the commercial spread of GM crops proves unstoppable, the alliance wants to protect the public's right to choose GM-free food, strict laws to prevent GM contamination, liability laws to ensure biotech companies pay for all damage arising from contamination and meaningful protection for organic farmers.

FUW president Gareth Vaughan said the union had longstanding concerns over GM contamination and the effectiveness of separation distances.

'The FUW has also argued that the liability rules must safeguard those producers whose business would be affected through GM contamination,' he said.

The event at the Assembly was sponsored by Tamsin Dunwoody-Kneafsey, the Labour AM for Preseli Pembrokeshire, and co-sponsored by Mick Bates, Liberal Democrat AM for Montgomery; Glyn Davies, Con- servative AM for Mid and West Wales; Helen Mary Jones, Plaid Cymru AM for Mid and West Wales and Dr John Marek, independent AM for Wrexham.

Mr Bates, Welsh Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, called on the Welsh Assembly Government to take greater action to stop the risk of contamination from genetically modified crops.

'The prospect of growing GM crops has received overwhelming opposition across the country, but the possibility that they will eventually be grown remains strong,' he said.

'I am concerned that the UK and Labour Assembly Government will propose weak regulations that would lead to widespread contamination of non- GM crops. …

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