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GM maize go-ahead is unscientific - George

February 20, 2004 12:00 AM

If the Government gave the go-ahead for commercialising GM maize, as is expected next week, it would not be based on flawed scientific trials and fly in the face of public opinion, the Liberal Democrats warned today.

Last month the Advisory Committee on Releases into the Environment (ACRE), which advises the Government on GMs, reported that the farm scale evaluation of GM maize underpinning the decision to license the crop was flawed and called for further research.

Their concerns are based on the use of the pesticide atrazine on the non-GM maize used in the trials. The chemical is banned in the EU from April 2005, rendering the experiment out of date.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Shadow Rural Affairs Secretary Andrew George MP said:

"The use of atrazine in the trials comparing GM and non-GM maize renders the results worthless. Whatever farmers choose to replace atrazine in 2005 could well be much better for the environment.

"ACRE has called for new trials but the Government has chosen to ignore informed opinion once again, in favour of biotech giants, rather than safeguarding the environment.

"I don't understand why the Government is so impatient to please the biotech companies and go ahead with the licensing without ensuring that decisions are based on sound science. After all, consumers don't want it, the supermarkets don't want to stock the stuff and farmers would be unwise in the present climate to commit themselves to growing it when there is no answer to the issue of liability nor co-existence.

"It is clear from this week's leak that a decision has already been taken. The fact is that the Government should stop treating the public and Parliament with such disdain and publish a policy for public and parliamentary debate before any further decisions are taken. This clandestine imposition of GM by the back door just won't do."