EXCERPT: "This consultation is a complete sham. It highlights the lengths the Government will go to back the biotech industry and pave the way for GM crops to be grown in Britain. The only way biotech companies will be able to grow their crops on a large scale is to allow widespread GM contamination of conventional and organic crops. And this is exactly what the UK Government is preparing to do."
GOVERNMENT GM CONSULTATION SLAMMED
Government's GM 'coexistence' plans are a sham
Friends of the Earth Press Release
Immediate Release: Thursday 20 July
A Government consultation launched today, on how GM and non-GM crops can 'co-exist' in Britain, is a thinly disguised attempt to allow GM crops in through the back door, warned Friends of the Earth.
The public consultation  seeks views on what practical measures are needed to allow GM crops to 'coexist' with conventional and organic crops and who should pay when farmers suffer economic damage caused by GM contamination. But the crucial issue of how to ensure that non-GM crops are protected from GM contamination will not be asked, because the Governments consultation assumes that significant levels of GM contamination are acceptable.
The consultation is being carried out under EU rules whereby member states can put in place measures to prevent GM contamination of non-GM crops. But under European food labelling rules, accidental GM contamination of up to 0.9 per cent is allowed before foods have to be labelled as GM. The UK Government has taken this to mean that 0.9 per cent GM contamination in conventional, and potentially even in organic, crops is acceptable.  This approach has been criticised in a legal opinion from an expert in European law, as being "fundamentally flawed" and "wrong in law".
The consultation also questions whether public registers of GM crop locations will be necessary. Friends of the Earth believes that the public has a right to know full details of where GM crops are being grown, and public registers must be made mandatory.
Friends of the Earth's GM campaigner, Clare Oxborrow said: "This consultation is a complete sham. It highlights the lengths the Government will go to back the biotech industry and pave the way for GM crops to be grown in Britain. The only way biotech companies will be able to grow their crops on a large scale is to allow widespread GM contamination of conventional and organic crops. And this is exactly what the UK Government is preparing to do.
"The Government is cynically disregarding the millions of British consumers who have clearly said they want their food, farming and environment to stay GM-free. We urge the public to take part in this consultation and make it clear that GM-free should mean GM-free, and that Government plans to allow GM in through the back door are completely unacceptable."
Friends of the Earth says the Government should:
* Put in place strict rules aimed at preventing GM contamination of all non-GM crops, down to the limit of detection, currently 0.1 per cent;
* Introduce legislation to ensure that biotech companies are strictly liable for any damage to the environment and to farmers' livelihoods;
* Support the growing demand for local decision-making on GM crops. In the UK 60 local authorities have passed resolutions opposing GM crops in their areas, covering a population of 18.5 million people .
Although there are no GM crops being grown in the UK, either commercially or in outdoor trials, biotech companies have lodged 12 applications to grow GM crops in Europe, which, if approved, could be grown in the UK.
The deadline for responses to the consultation is 20 October 2006.
 Page 10 of the consultation document (above) says: "...any statutory coexistence measures must aim to minimise unwanted GM transfer into non-GM crops so that they do not exceed the EU 0.9% threshold." "...The 0.9% figure is a level that food and feed supply chains should in general be able to observe with measures that do not impose an excessive burden. Coexistence can only work on the basis of a pragmatic threshold"
 The Government is consulting on:
* Options for practical measures which aim to keep GM contamination below the 0.9 per cent labelling threshold set by the EU.
* Whether a threshold below 0.9% should apply to organic production
* Options for compensation to farmers if their crops are contaminated.
* Advice to farmers on setting up voluntary GM free zones
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