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GOVERNMENT MUST RETHINK GM STRATEGY

July 21, 2003 12:00 AM

Tractor in a field.Commenting ahead of the anticipated publication of the GM Science Review report on Monday (21st July), which is expected to say there are still too many gaps in knowledge on GM at present, Liberal Democrat Shadow Rural Affairs Minister Andrew George MP said:

"The note of caution expected in the scientific review is hardly unexpected but sends a strong message to the Government. There simply isn't enough scientific evidence to reassure people that GMOs are safe for them or the environment.

"It is difficult not to be cynical about the timing of all this. The scientific review is being published just one working day after the GM Nation debate has closed.

"The findings from the Government's Farm Scale Trials will not be published until September, so why didn't they postpone the scientific review and public debate to take this into account?

"It is clear that retailers don't want to market the stuff, the Downing Street Strategy Unit last week admitted that there was no market for it, and I would certainly warn farmers not to touch it with a barge pole unless they wanted to face a public relations disaster.

"Decisions on GM should be based on sound science, not 'quick', 'make do' or 'hasty' science.

"If ever a political decision required caution, then this is it. Without adequate science in place we run the serious risk of taking an irreversible decision in haste, which we could regret at our leisure for many years to come.

"Only when issues of liability, the farm scale trials and human health impact studies have been completed and reported, will it be appropriate to revisit GMs.

"The Government must rethink GM and face down pressure from the biotech giants and the United States and not be forced into making a hasty decision."

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

1. The GM Science Review <<a href="http://www.gmsciencedebate.org.uk/">http://www.gmsciencedebate.org.uk/> is due to report on Monday 21st July. It is part of three strands of the Government's GM debate - the GM Nation debate ended on Friday 18th July; the Economic Review conducted by the Strategy Unit was published on Friday 11th July.