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Stackyard News Jan 04

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GM Farming Gets A Step Closer
Jan 14 2004
By Bob Roberts The Daily Mirror

GM cropLARGE-scale GM farming in Britain came a step closer yesterday, sparking furious protests by campaigners.

The Government's scientific advisers said commercial growing of genetically modified maize should be allowed under strict rules.

The experts said the crop had a "neutral" impact on wildlife in trials - but warned sugar beet and oil seed rape had been harmful.

The report by the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (Acre) is the last sought by ministers before they decide whether to let the crops be grown commercially in this country.

Acre member Jules Pretty said: "This is neither a green light for GMs nor a death knell for them. " We are saying 'yes, but' to the maize and 'no, but' both to the beet and the oil seed rape crops."

Angry Greenpeace campaigner Sarah North said: "The only reason GM maize got through the British tests was because its effect on the environment was compared to a pesticide which is so toxic it has now been banned."

Pete Riley, of Friends of the Earth, warned: "GM crops are unpopular, unnecessary and are a threat to neighbouring crops and the environment. " The Government must not allow them to be grown commercially in the UK."

And GeneWatch UK said: "Given the difficult position of our farmland wildlife we have to be careful."

Acre studied how the Frankenstein foods would affect weeds, insects, birds and mammals. The Government, under pressure from big American and British biotech firms, is widely expected to let GM crops be grown.

Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett insisted last night ministers were still undecided. She said: "We will consider the advice very carefully. " I have said consistently that the Government is neither pro nor anti-GM crops. " Our over-riding concern is to protect human health and the environment, and to ensure genuine consumer choice."

ABC, representing biotech firms, said the report showed a "case-by-case" approach was now needed.

Government wildlife watchdog English Nature last night also backed the growing of GM maize under "certain conditions".

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Friends of the Earth

GeneWatch UK