|Ministers face GM showdown in Scotland/HELP US WIN (15/3/2004)|
WHEREVER YOU ARE IN THE WORLD, PLEASE HELP US AND SCOTLAND WIN THIS VITAL VOTE BY CONTACTING MEMBERS OF THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT - SEE ITEM 2. IT'S EASY TO DO.
1.Ministers face GM showdown
1.Ministers face GM showdown
SCOTTISH Executive ministers will be forced to defend in the parliament the controversial compromise deal they hammered out with Westminster last week on genetically modified crops.
The SNP announced yesterday that it was going to use its parliamentary time this week to question the Executive's approach on GM crops.
Scottish ministers said they wanted to make Scotland GM-free but did not impose a ban on the crops north of the Border.
Instead they backed Westminster in allowing the sowing of GM crops, deciding only to advise farmers not to grow the controversial crops.
Roseanna Cunningham, the SNP's environment spokeswoman, said she would order the Executive not to cave in to pressure from London ministers in the Nationalist-led debate.
According to reports yesterday, Margaret Beckett, the Environment Minister, might set up a high-level joint ministerial committee for the first time since devolution if the devolved administrations try to veto the growing of GM crops.
The committee could include Tony Blair, John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, Jack McConnell, Scotland's First Minister, and Rhodri Morgan, the Welsh First Minister.
It is also understood that Westminster might also impose the growing of GM crops through legislation if the ministerial committee fails to reach agreement.
Last week, Ms Beckett gave qualified approval to the commercial growing of GM maize by British farmers. But before it can be grown it must be placed on the national seed list, and that requires the agreement of the Scottish and Welsh administrations, which are thought to be more reluctant.
Following Ms Beckett's announcement, Allan Wilson, the Scottish deputy environment minister, said the Executive was backing the Westminster go-ahead and rejected suggestions that the Holyrood cabinet might veto the move. But he also said Scottish ministers wanted farmers to agree to a voluntary GM ban in Scotland, and he conceded there was little public support for early commercialisation of GM crops north of the Border.
Ms Cunningham said: "The parliament now has to step in to make clear that ministers must not capitulate in the face of pressure from London.
"Last week's GM announcement was met with outright opposition from Welsh ministers but here in Scotland the response was feeble."
She said the Lib Dems in particular had to come off the fence for the vote on Thursday and oppose GM crops in line with their policy at Westminster.
Friends of the Earth Scotland's chief executive Duncan McLaren said: "It is now decision time for the Scottish Executive on GM."
And he warned: "With the European elections only a few months away, the electorate is unlikely to forget in a hurry if Labour and the Lib Dems fail to stand up for public opinion and the environment on this important issue."
A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said talk of a joint ministerial committee was "just speculation".
He added: "If we do not reach joint agreement on the seed listing under the appropriate legislation, there are more general mechanisms to reach mutual agreement."
2. HELP US WIN IN SCOTLAND - from Munlochy Vigil
PLEASE PASS THIS ON TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND CONTACTS. THANK YOU!
The vote will be very close and is winnable.
To help achieve what would be a very important victory, we need to show the huge amount of public concern by lobbying those most likely to rebel against the Executive.
The opposition in Parliament is now united so we need to e-mail the following potential rebels from the ruling parties to vote on principal and against GM.
We are purposefully not sending out a standard letter, so that each letter either from the public or organisations is clearly seen as an individual committment. (We all know the issues)
Please send arguments and opinions to:
We only need 4 or 5 of these to change sides and vote for a GM free Scotland (and also derail UK GM policy!)
PLEASE CIRCULATE AS WIDELY AS POSSIBLE TO AND AMONGST GROUPS AND ORGANISATIONS.
Thank you for your support,