GM crops: Blair, who do you represent, the British people, or Bush and the multinationals? (16/10/2003)

Oct 16

The results of the Government's GM crop trials out today will force Tony Blair to show who he really represents - the British people or Bush and the multi-nationals.  The trials have confirmed the arguments that Friends of the Earth has put forward for some time - that growing GM beet and oilseed rape will cause more harm to the environment than growing conventional varieties, and so should not be commercially grown in the UK.

Suggestions that GM maize could be better for the environment than conventional varieties have been dismissed by the environmental pressure group due to the flawed comparison made by the trials - the weed killer used on the non-GM maize in the trials, atrazine, has been banned by the EU and is being withdrawn from the market, and therefore does not represent a real comparison with alternative maize growing methods.

Conventional maize growing methods are known to be particularly damaging for the environment so it is not surprising that a marginally better result was found for GM maize.  There are also concerns that the maize results were artificially optimised and would not be replicated on working farms seeking to maximise the yield of maize, rather than weeds and insects.  The maize trials also did not assess the threat posed to organic and other non-GM maize crops via wind borne pollen contamination.

Friends of the Earth's director, Tony Juniper said:

"These trials have shown that GM oilseed rape and beet caus  e   more damage to the environment than even conventional crops  .  The maize results are at best inconclusive.  Going ahead with the commercialisation of any of these GM crops   would be totally unacceptable.

"Information collected at public expense now confirms that GM crops harm the environment, make no economic sense and are deeply unpopular.  Tony Blair now needs to decide who he represents - is it the British public or the Bush administration   and the multinational? If it's the people of this country,   then he must stand up to US pressure and declare Britain GM-free."

Earlier this year the Government held a public consultation on GM crops which revealed that there was no economic justification for GM crops, that there were significant gaps in scientific knowledge on the potential impact on health and the environment, and that there is massive public opposition to GM crops being commercially grown.

Briefings on the GM trials and on GM maize and beet are available from Friends of the Earth     

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