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BLAIR ACCEPTS PROBLEMS WITH GM CROPS - GEORGE

October 22, 2003 4:34 PM

Andrew George MP for St IvesResponding to a question by Liberal Democrat Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary, Andrew George MP, the Prime Minister today admitted for the first time that there are concerns about the planting of GM crops in the UK.

Commenting Mr George said:

"The Prime Minister's acceptance that there are problems with GM crops, and that the Government will proceed on the basis of sound science, rather than hasty or make-do science, is reassuring.

"The Government cannot therefore give the go ahead to any of the crops under investigation in the present circumstances.

"The very least the Government should do now is to re-run the public debate on GM in the light of significant new research and information published since July. Otherwise 'GM Nation?' will be proven to be nothing more than a PR exercise, which is what we warned at the time."

Notes:

Prime Minister's Questions, Wednesday 22nd October 2003

Andrew George MP: Decisions on genetically modified crops should be based on sound science. But if the Prime Minister accepts that government-commissioned reports show that consumers don't want it, supermarkets won't stock it, liability issues are far from resolved and the science is at best inconclusive; is he satisfied that the Government can make a decision about the permanent release of GMs into the countryside? And if not, when will the decision be made?

The Prime Minister: We will act according to the scientific evidence and I think the system we set up is one that is robust because it is allowing us to get proper scientific evidence. And for some GM crops, for example, there are problems to do with biodiversity; for others they say there are fewer such problems.

The reason why I think it is so important however that we only proceed by science is that - I do say this and I know there is a huge campaign against GM and all the rest of it - and to be frank about it the Government's got no interest in this one way or another other than to try to do the right thing.

But the biotechnology industry is a vital part of this country's industry. There are many people who believe the whole science of genetics is going to be the science of the first half of the 21st century.

I can simply tell them that there are other countries piling investment into this area and therefore I think we have simply got to proceed with care so we will proceed according to the science. But I do think we should allow the science and not prejudice in favour or against to determine this issue.