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We must have a referendum on GM, says Bates

July 25, 2003 12:00 AM

Tractor in a field.Mick Bates AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat environment spokesperson, today called for a full referendum on GM crops in Wales.

He said: "The Labour Assembly Government (LAG) says it is committed to the 'most restrictive policy possible', but that does not necessarily prevent planting - a public referendum on this will demonstrate the settled will of the Welsh people".

Under legislation revealed by EU Agriculture commissioner Franz Fischler at the Royal Welsh Show this week it is proposed that the Welsh Assembly Government would be legally unable to declare Wales GM-free. The only other option open here, is if all Welsh farmers banded together privately to support a GM-free designation.

"I am hopeful that we can get a full and frank debate", said Mr Bates, "In the interim, I would encourage members of the public and interested organisations to communicate their views to the government, in both London and Cardiff".

A survey of 500 showgoers conducted by the FUW at the Royal Welsh Show revealed that 96 per cent wanted their food to be GM free. The idea of genetically modified foodstuffs continues to be unpopular with the general public.