Make Britain GM free, says Charles/Stark choice on GM or organic, says Meacher/GM maize scandal rocks industry (30/7/2003)

1.Make Britain GM free, says Charles
2.Organic vs GM crops is 'stark choice'
3.GM war on weeds 'can kill small birds'
4.Letter from the PM (well, sort of)
5.Estonia: GM maize scandal rocks industry
1.Make Britain GM free, says Charles
Steve Dube, The Western Mail, Jul 30 2003
(excerpt from a longer article at:

GENETICALLY-MODIFIED crops should be banned in Britain, the Prince of Wales told The Western Mail yesterday.

Speaking as he officially opened the Western Mail and Echo's new GBP18m press in Cardiff Bay, the Prince said, "We need a GM-free Wales - and a GM-free Britain as well, for that matter."

And he dismissed the merits of a claim that moves to ban so-called "Frankenstein foods" in Wales alone were illegal.

The World Trade Organisation is threatening legal action against the European Union over its refusal to allow imports of unlabelled GM produce from America.

But the claims of illegality come from the European Commission, and were repeated by EU Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler at last week's Royal Welsh Show.

The Prince's reaction, as he fuelled the debate on GM crops, was blunt: "It's ridiculous," he said.

Prince Charles took his dislike of GM crops to the ultimate level yesterday as he called for the British ban, although he has frequently expressed strong views on the issue
2.Organic vs GM crops is 'stark choice'

Former environment minister Michael Meacher says evidence of "massive" cross-contamination shows the UK must make a stark choice between growing organic or genetically-modified crops.

Speaking on a tour of Canada, where organic farmers are suing biotech giants for spoiling their produce by preventing them calling it GM-free, he said the two types of cultivation could not exist side by side.

"The problem is massive. I have spent the whole day seeing several farms and several examples where there has been very extensive contamination, particularly of oil seed rape," he has told the BBC.

"The fact is that it goes everywhere. There is no question that there can be a short separation distance - that is clearly not the case.
"The buzz word in Britain is that we can have 'co-existence' between the GM sector and the organic or conventional sector.

"What Canada shows, who have been trying to do this for the last seven years, is that it is absolutely impossible.

"You have to make a choice, and the choice frankly is: are we going to go for GM, for which there is no market and no-one wants to buy at the expense of organic, which people do want to buy and for which there is a tremendous market?

"You cannot have both."

He said the oil seed rape blew in the wind over "considerable distances"
3.GM war on weeds 'can kill small birds'
Eastern Daily Press, 30 July 2003

GM crops could have a serious impact on Britain's already beleaguered farmland birds, a new report including research in Norfolk revealed yesterday.

The Hawk and Owl Trust, which carried out the study on hen harrier diets, is hoping the findings will be important evidence in the national debate about GM crops.

The trust believes the introduction of new farming practices such as genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops designed to control arable weeds could increase the pressure on birds like skylarks, linnets, greenfinches, reed buntings and dunnocks.

Roger Clarke, Pete Combridge and Nigel Middleton collected and analysed pellets from harrier winter roosts in North Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire.

Fewer small birds are surviving the winter because of a widespread and dramatic reduction in food.

Dr Clarke said: "The most telling factors in the decline of weed seeds in recent decades are the development of more effective herbicides, the competitive density of modern crops and the widespread shift to sowing cereal in the autumn, rather than the spring.

"GM crops could put further pressure on the winter survival of already threatened farmland birds."

Dr Clarke described the findings as "eye opening", and added: "It highlights what is at stake. We are already very concerned about decreases of the population of farmland birds."

He said the information would be passed on to "anyone who would listen".

A conference is due to be held in London in January on the whole issue of GM crops and birds.

The 16-page report has been published in the latest edition of the British Birds journal.

It was launched at the opening of the new reserve at Sculthorpe, which was once a communal winter roost site for hen harriers.
4. Letter from the PM (well, sort of)
From: Brian John <[email protected]>
Oh happy day!  I have had an on-going (one-way) correspondence with Tony Blair for a long time now, and today (oh happy day!) I got a reply.  Not from the PM himself, but from a very nice fellow who assures me that the contents of my letter will be carefully noted and that the letter is being passed on to DEFRA who have particular responsibility etc etc burble burble.

The letter from No 10 is dated 24 April 2001.  So it is very good to see that the PM's staff are working desperately hard to cut down their response time on correspondence from 3 years to 2 years and six months.

We should all be grateful for small mercies.......  All those who are waiting for a letter from No 10, just be patient for a year or two more!

5. Estonia: GM maize scandal rocks industry
AgraFood East Europe, June 2003

Estonia's first scandal over GM products erupted late last month when it was revealed that unauthorised GM maize seeds had been sold to local farmers.

Daily newspaper Aripaev alleged that a company connected to ex-Minister of Agriculture Jaanus Marrandi had sold about 500 tonnes of imported GM maize seeds to Estonian farmers this year without informing them of the seeds' true nature.

The farmers were either about to plant the seeds in the next few weeks or had already done so, according to reports. Many farmers said the maize harvested was to be used to feed cows whose milk is supplied to local dairies.

The Ministry of Env said no comment would be made until an investigation into the case had been completed. However, officials confirmed that the maize seeds sold to the farmers were GM.

The investigation is not over yet, but we recommend that farmers who bought this GM maize do not sow it until we have reached a final decision, the ministry said.

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