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Country News - 2002

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NFU joins attack on "irresponsible" TV show
Tuesday 11 June

THE National Farmers' Union has joined the chorus of critics attacking a BBC drama production about a GM crop experiment that caused a deadly plague.

The programme, Fields of Gold, had already come in for fierce criticism from leading scientists, one of whom claimed he had been asked to act as adviser to the producers, only to have his advice is ignored because it was not sensational enough.

Now, the NFU has joined the attack, saying the programme would only serve to further cloud serious and balanced debate on the complex issue of genetic modification.

Expressing his concern at the two-part thriller screened on Saturday and Sunday, NFU President Ben Gill, who farms at Easingwold, near York, said he feared it, would leave the public needlessly confused and scared.

He said: "The NFU believes it was irresponsible of the BBC to screen this programme. There are many serious questions surrounding the issue of GM crops.

"But that is precisely why debate must be balanced and informed by sound science. Only this way can we fully assess the potential benefits and concerns and make informed decisions about the proper role of biotechnology in Britain and worldwide.

"Objectivity and sound science were thrown out of the window in Fields of Gold in favour of sensationalism and science fiction. It may have been exciting drama but if it has set back sensible debate on this important subject, was it really worth it?"

Mr Gill also hit out at the programme's inaccuracies about farming, animal welfare, the use of antibiotics and pesticides.

Mr Gill added: "The programme's wildly distorted picture of farming has left British farmers fuming."

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