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Wales: Urgent clarification on GM commercialisation needed

September 9, 2004 12:00 AM

A European Commission decision to make seventeen types of GM maize available for planting throughout the EU could have serious repercussions for Wales' GM free status, warns Mick Bates.

The Welsh Liberal Democrat countryside spokesperson has written to Carwyn Jones, Rural Affairs Minister in the Assembly Government, seeking clarification on the impact the EC's move will have on Welsh policy.

Mr. Bates said: "The fight to remain GM crop-free has been a long battle in Wales. It has been successful because of cross party co-operation and the support of the public. Opposition to the growing of GM crops in Wales remains strong, and the Assembly government's response to this European Commission decision must reflect that strength of feeling."

The European Commission has decided to add these GM maize varieties to Europe's common catalogue of seeds. These GM seeds will now be commercially available to farmers in all 25 European states. A survey by Which magazine, released last week, showed that public opposition to GM food and crops had increased since 2002. 61 % of the public are concerned about the use of GM in food production.

Mr. Bates added: "These varieties may not appeal to Welsh farmers, as the crops are modified to be resistant to insects that are not problematic here, but there is nothing to prevent farmers from growing them if they so wish.

"This opening of the door to GM crops only highlights the urgent need for rules on co-existence between GM and conventional crops and liability on possible GM contamination of other crops. The Assembly Government along with the other UK administrations must act now to combat this creeping commercialisation of GM crops. We in Wales have lead on this issue and the Minister must continue his work and represent the Assembly and public's opposition to GM."