|Assembly still on course for a GM Free Wales (24/3/2004)|
Thanks to everyone who lobbied Welsh Assembly Members on this issue. Note that "not one Assembly Member spoke in support of GM commercialisation".
Assembly still on course for a GM Free Wales
Friends of the Earth Cymru has called on the Welsh Assembly to focus on the real issues surrounding GM crops rather than playing politics with the issue. Although a Liberal Democrat motion  directing the Assembly Government to block the commercialisation of a genetically modified (GM) maize crop was defeated by 29 to 26 votes in the Assembly, not one Assembly Member spoke in support of GM commercialisation.
Environment Minister Carwyn Jones stressed during the debate that "there is no presumption here that GM crops will be commercialised".
Although the vote will be welcomed by supporters of GM technology, the final resolution, as amended, declared that the National Assembly for Wales "believes that robust coexistence measures should be in place prior to any listing of GM crops" . This position is significantly more restrictive than that taken by the UK Government which has already said it supports "in principle" the commercialisation of the GM maize variety ChardonLL.
Nor does the final resolution imply any support for the commercialisation of ChardonLL which has yet to be fully considered by the Assembly Government or the Assembly's Environment Committee.
Julian Rosser, Director of Friends of the Earth Cymru commented,
"It's not surprising that Labour Assembly Members refused to support a Liberal Democrat motion which "deplores" the actions of the UK Labour Government. It is time for the Assembly to stop playing around with the politics of GM and focus on taking real action to protect our environment and farmers.
"Carwyn Jones is quite right to insist that there should be no commercialisation of ChardonLL until measures to protect organic and conventional farmers are in place. However, the best way to protect Wales from GM pollution is simply to stop the commercialisation of GM crops. Now that the politicians have stopped calling each other names, it is time for them to get round a table and agree on a range of actions to keep Wales GM free."
 The text of the Liberal Democrat motion: NDM1886 Kirsty Williams (Brecon and Radnorshire) To propose that the National Assembly:
1. Directs the Labour Assembly Government to reiterate its policy of applying the precautionary principle and adopting the most legally restrictive policy possible in relation to GM crops;
2. Welcomes and endorses the conclusion of the UK Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee that it would be irresponsible for the UK government to allow the commercial planting of GM crops;
3. Welcomes the investment in organic and traditional agriculture in Wales but believes that this investment would be jeopardised by the commercial growing of GM crops in the UK;
4. Deplores the announcement by the UK Government of its intention to approve the growing of the GM Maize Chardon LL and directs the Labour Assembly Government to ensure that Chardon LL is not added to the UK seed list.
 The text of the Labour amendment:
1. Karen Sinclair (Clwyd South) Labour
1. Supports the Welsh Assembly Government policy of applying the precautionary principle and adopting the most restrictive policy possible within current UK and EU legislation in relation to the cultivation of GM crops;
2. Believes that robust coexistence measures should be in place prior to any listing of GM crops.
Julian Rosser Director Friends of the Earth Cymru 33 Castle Arcade Balcony Cardiff Wales CF10 1BY Tel 029 2022 9577 Fax 029 2022 8775 E-mail [email protected] Web: http://www.foecymru.co.uk
Julian Rosser Cyfarwyddydd Cyfeillion y Ddaear Cymru 33 Oriel Arcêd y Castell Caerdydd Cymru CF10 1BY Ffôn 029 2022 9577 Ffacs 029 2022 8775 E bost: [email protected] Gwefan: http://www.cyddcymru.co.uk