MP pledges to pull up GM crops /Church of Scotland joins the critics (11/3/2004)

The Church of Scotland joined the critics, accusing the Westminster government of acting "in clear contradiction" of the results of a public consultation exercise. (item 5)

2.Syngenta in retreat in UK
3.Italy raises fears over British OK for GM crop
5.Opposition fury over GM crop ruling

Green Gloves Pledge

Alan Simpson M.P.[2] signed up to the Green Gloves Pledge after the Government announced it would give the go-ahead to commercial growing of the first Genetically Modified crop in Parliament today. He publicly signed a pledge on College Green after the go-ahead was announced.

Alan Simpson's pledge joins another 2,957 that have been collected since August 2003. Those signing come from all walks of life and all across the Country. They include priests, company directors, members of a library reading group, doctors and many others.

Andrew Wood, from the Green Gloves Pledge said

"Almost three thousand pledges have been collected so far; we will continue to collect them and expect many more people to sign-up. There's still plenty of time for the Government to change it's mind so it's far from over yet, but if GM crops are planted commercially then people are saying they'll pull them up."

CONTACT: 01865 727 972 or press pager 07654 247 502

Editors Notes

 [1]The Green Gloves Pledge reads: "If the UK government gives the go-ahead to commercialise the growing of GM crops against the overwhelming wishes of the British public, I pledge to non-violently remove GM crops from the ground or support those who take action to remove GM crops"

[2] Alan Simpson is the MP for Nottingham South

The Green Gloves pledge can be signed online at or on paper.

16 b Cherwell Street, Oxford. OX4 1BG Tel: 01865 727 972 Press pager: 07654 247 502 Email: [email protected] Web:

2.Syngenta in retreat in UK
fwd from Olaf Bayer <[email protected]>

Syngenta have just withdrawn their herbicide tolerant sugar beet 'Pacific' from the UK seed listing process. This means that of 58 GM plant varieties that have begun the UK national seed listing process since 1994 only 4 varieties (less than 7%) now remain in the seed listing process.

Those varieties that remain are a very tokenistic single plant variety for each crop. This is perhaps indicative of an industry that is desperately trying to keep a very symbolic toe in the door rather than one that is serious about making a real go of GM crops in the UK.

GM plant varieties still in the UK national seed listing process:

1 variety of winter oilseed rape PHW99-429 owned by Bayer CropScience

1 variety of spring oilseed rape PH96S452 owned by Bayer CropScience

1 variety of fodder maize Chardon LL owned by Bayer CropScience

1 variety of sugar beet Sturgeon owned by Syngenta

Details for Pacific (
Application No:- 45/813
Breeders Reference or Approved Name:- PACIFIC
Application Date:- 14/01/1998
Acceptance Date:- Application Withdrawn
Last Updated: - 03/03/2004

3.Italy raises fears over British okay for GMO crops
Agence France Press, 10 March 2004 [clipped]

Italian Agriculture Minister Gianni Alemanno voiced concern Wednesday that Britain's green light for limited commercial cultivation of genetically modified maize could affect Italy, where such crops are banned.

"After a certain period, a product authorised in one country is commercialised automatically in others. This genetically modified maize could therefore arrive over here," Alemanno told the daily Corriere della Sera.

Our problem is to defend our traditional methods and in particular to defend the right of consumers and producers to choose," he added.

"A choice which would be impossible if it produced a contamination which would progressively eliminate non-GM (genetically modified) cultivation," said Alemanno.

GM crops are outlawed in Italy outside certain tightly controlled research sites in the north of the country.

Mar 10

Reports today claim that GM material has been found in products labeled organic or GM-free.  Friends of the Earth believe it shows a clear indication that where GM is already grown overseas there are no adequate measures in place to prevent cross-contamination.

The Biotechnology Unit at the University of Glamorgan carried out a pilot study to test for the presence of GM ingredients in soya foods from health food stores and supermarkets.  It found that 40%, or almost half of the 25 foods tested positively for GM ingredients. The data from the survey has not yet been officially published.

Friends of the Earth's GM campaigner Pete Riley said:

"This report shows the real threat that GM crops pose to organic and conventional food in the current absence of adequate Government controls over GM crops and foodstuffs imported to the UK from countries where GM crops are already grown."

Yesterday, the Government gave qualified approval to the commercial growing of GM maize.  Announcing the decision Environment Minister Margaret Beckett said "customers want a clear regime for traceability and labeling so that they can make their own choices"

Friends of the Earth's GM campaigner Pete Riley added:

"Mrs Beckett's decision to give qualified commercial approval to GM maize will only heighten the risk to our food and farming from GM pollution.  The Government must reassure the public by introducing testing to guaran  tee that conventional food sold in the UK is GM-free.  If it can't do this it should reconsider its decision to allow GM maize to be grown commercially."

The Government announced a consultation on GM contamination and liability but has refused to back a Private Members Bill by Greg Barker MP aimed at addressing this issue, which will get its Second Reading in Parliament later this month.

5.Opposition fury over GM crop ruling
The Scotsman, 10 March 2004

MINISTERS today faced a torrent of criticism from opposition MSPs after deciding to back the Westminster Government over genetically-modified crops.

As a consequence of decisions in Edinburgh and London, GM maize could be grown in Scotland or England from next spring.

Scottish ministers want farmers to agree on a voluntary ban on growing GM maize in Scotland, but agreed a voluntary ban could not be enforced.

Deputy Environment Minister Allan Wilson insisted the decision did not give a green light to GM crops in Scotland.

But the move could be seen as an amber light by a reluctant Scottish Executive which believes it has few powers to block GM crops without hard scientific evidence. SNP, Tory and Green MSPs reacted with anger, accusing ministers of buckling under pressure.

Green MSP Mark Ruskell said: "Make no mistake, this is a cave-in by the Scottish Executive to allow Westminster to give the thumbs up to the biotech industry.

"There is nothing to legally stop any farmer in Scotland growing the crop.

"Consumers won't know if the milk or meat they buy has been produced by cattle fed with GM maize."

The SNP's Roseanna Cunningham said: "The Executive accept that Scotland should not have and does not want GM crops, yet they refuse to use the powers they have to block them. This is a bizarre decision.

"The UK government's decision to allow GM crops is driven by large multinational companies and it comes in the face of massive opposition from ordinary consumers."

And Tory MSP Alex Johnstone said: "If it is in the power of the Scottish Executive to delay implementation of this decision in Scotland, then they should do so."

The Church of Scotland joined the critics, accusing the Westminster government of acting "in clear contradiction" of the results of a public consultation exercise.  


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