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Country News - 2004

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GM go-ahead – with strings

Wednesday 10 March 2004

AS WE predicted yesterday, the Government is considering giving the go-head for the commercial growing of genetically modified maize in the UK – but with strings attached to protect the interest of organic farms and market gardens.

In the House of Commons yesterday, DEFRA Secretary of State Margaret Beckett handed out an important fillip to the powerful anti-GM lobby by saying that GM maize farming would be cleared only when a compensation scheme was in place to recompense organic farmers should their crops be invaded by GM organisms.

To soften the anticipated controversy even further, she said that two other GM crops which had been field tested – sugar beet and oil seed rape – would not be given the go-ahead. In fact, she said, the UK would fight for a ban on such crops throughout the EU.

Neither of these concessions, however, are likely to persuade the general public to buy GM produce: there have been so many food scandals in recent years that retailers are said to be reluctant to stock GM goods for fear of driving customers away.


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