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Stackyard News Feb 05

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RICS Calls For GM Land Register To Protect The Consumer

Public concern regarding GM (Genetically Modified) crops is a mounting issue as demonstrated by the GM-free Britain lobby of Parliament taking place on Wednesday 23rd February. There is a growing sentiment that the public have the right to know where crops are coming from and whether or not they are GM-free.

According to Brian Berry, Head of Land Policy, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), 'The only way to allay growing public concern about genetically modified crops, as evidenced by the GM-free lobby of Parliament on 23 February, is to have a system in place to record where GM crops are grown. Only then will the consumer's right to choose be protected.'

The RICS' proposal for the creation of a web-based GM Land Register offers advantages to all parties, both pro and anti GM:

simple, cost efficient and minimises red tape for farmers as well as producers of GM crops

provides genuine consumer and producer choice in the consumption and growing of GM, non-GM and organic crops as well as offering a practical and implementable system to ensure the full traceability of approved and future location of GM crops and details of crops grown

benefits professionals involved in advising clients on the purchase, sale, value, lease or management of land and property

others who will benefit include: prospective purchasers or lessees of land and property looking for warnings on any possible issues relating to their proposed transaction; those trading in non-GM crops or organic crops,who need to make sure the product meets the growers' claims; those regulators in the UK who monitor any potentially beneficial or harmful effects of GM crops; financial organisations lending money against the security of agricultural, horticultural and other property; land owners and occupiers who wish to comply with all the rules and codes of practice as a defence against potential liability claims from neighbouring farmers and others suffering loss or damage through cross contamination.

RICS is currently lobbying the Government to implement the GM Land Register and is awaiting the publication of the Defra consultation paper which will set out the Government's proposals on how best to implement EU Directive 2001/18EC. This Directive places an obligation on Member States to draw up a register for recording the location of GM crops before the first commercial release of crops.

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Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors