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Checkbiotech: Keep GM away from Wales
Posted by: DR. RAUPP ; madora (IP Logged)
Date: February 24, 2005 06:39PM ; ;

WALES - should remain GM-free or, failing that, heavy fines should be paid
by biotech companies if conventional crops are contaminated, GM critics
claimed February 2005 by Andrew Forgrave.

Opponents of genetically-modified food stepped up their campaign to declare
Wales GM-free by staging a protest rally in Cardiff.

The event outside the Assembly building, Cardiff Bay, was organised by four
pressure groups who say that even if some GM planting is allowed in Wales,
conventional farmers should be protected.

They should receive compensation if neighbouring farms were found to have
breached rules on cross-contamination, said campaigners.

Julian Rosser, director of Friends of the Earth Cymru (FoE Cymru), said
there was no evidence that GM crops are safe for human health and the

He said: "Even so, there is a risk that GM crops will be planted in Wales.

"It is vital the Assembly puts in place tough regulations to protect our
environment and to preserve our right to choose GM-free food."

As well as FoE Cymru, other groups represented at yesterday's rally included
GM Free Cymru, the Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) and the National Federation
of Womens Institutes Wales (NFWIW).

They met a selection of AMs from all political parties who agreed to call
for the reconvening of a cross-party GM group within the Assembly to debate
GM issues.

The EU has handed responsibility for deciding GM coexistence and crop
separation distances to the UK government, which in principle supports GM
crops in Britain. It is now deciding what legislation is needed: public
consultations are expected this year.

FUW president Gareth Vaughan said Wales should remain focused on preventing
any GM cultivation.

But if, as seems likely, some GM crops were allowed, legislation governing
coexistence should be as tough as possible, with any additional costs met by
the GM industry, he said.

Organic farmers should have "meaningful protection" and liability laws
should be put in place to ensure biotech companies pay for contamination
damages, he added.

Rhian Connick, head of the NFWIW, agreed: "Cross pollination seems
inevitable, meaning if GM crops were to be grown in Wales, it would almost
certainly mean an end to consumer choice, and irreversible damage to our
countryside. The WI hopes the Assembly will set strict laws to prevent GM
contamination and that those responsible for contamination are made to pay."

In a parallel GM rally staged by GM-free Britain at Westminster, London,
former UK environment minister Michael Meacher said everyone except the
government was against GM.

He said: "The only bodies in favour are the government, which is basically
Tony Blair and Margaret Beckett."


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