Church of England won't grow GM crops on its land (9/3/2004)

Sir Stuart Bell MP is the government's representative on the Church Commissioners, who manage the Church of England's assets. Bell also represents the Commissioners in parliament. Here he is asked about the use of Church of England land for GM crops.

Interestingly, Stuart Bell is an employee of PR firm Bell Pottinger which represents Monsanto. Blair's chief spokesman, David Hill, was also until taking up his present post a Bell Pottinger employee where he directly advised Monsanto on making its case. A former Labour Party chief media spokesperson, Mike Craven, has been running Monsanto et al's lobbying for GM commercialisation in UK from his Lexington Communications PR firm. What a small world!

for more on Hill:
for more on Craven:

Commons Hansard Debates text for Monday 8 Mar 2004

The hon. Member for Middlesbrough was asked -

GM Crops 24. Mr. Simon Thomas (Ceredigion) (PC): To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, what the policy of the commissioners is regarding (a) the cultivation and use of GM crops and (b) the keeping of animals on their land. [158941]

Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Stuart Bell): The Church Commissioners do not permit the growing of GM crops on their land. As to the keeping of livestock, the commissioners expect their tenants to observe the requirements of law and best practice.

Mr. Thomas : I thank the hon. Gentleman for allowing me, as a member of a disestablished Church, to ask this question. I am delighted that the Church Commissioners have made this decision. In the light of a likely announcement by the Government tomorrow licensing the commercialisation of GM crops, I hope that the commissioners will maintain an interest in low-intensity and possibly even organic agriculture, and not in chemical-based agriculture.

Sir Stuart Bell: I am always happy to welcome Plaid Cymru to questions, in the best traditions of our national Parliament where all right hon. and hon. Members can put questions to a Church Commissioner. The GM policy to which I referred reflects the advice of the Church's ethical investment advisory group in 2000, as endorsed by the commissioners. I have no reason to believe that that advice will change in the none-too-distant future.  


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