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October 30, 2003 4:01 PM

Former Environment Secretary, Michael Meacher, yesterday revealed to the Environmental Audit Select Committee that the farm scale trials of GM crops were flawed from the outset, as the organisation conducting the trials knew that the herbicide used - Atrazine - was to be banned.

Commenting on this evidence, Sue Doughty MP, Liberal Democrat member of the Environmental Audit Select Committee, said:

"We were assured that these trials would be conducted scientifically, but they were anything but scientific. The committee developing the tests, SCIMAC, was set up by the GM industry itself. It was allowed to set the terms of reference, to act as referee and to pull the wool over the Government's eyes.

"Mr Meacher's evidence revealed that those designing the tests on the maize crop did so even though they were aware that the herbicide atrazine was to be withdrawn from Europe.

"The Government's decision to give the suppliers free rein was totally irresponsible. If Ministers had been aware of the status of the herbicide, they would have seen that there was no point in going ahead with the tests.

"It is essential that we now conduct scientifically valid tests on the crops themselves, their environmental impact and their full impact on health before using a technology which could be building up problems for the future."