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farmers growing GM crops must face tougher laws
The article below shows stark contrast to the Canadian process where
backward judges believe that the dictum should read "the polluted must
pay". Such judges are famous for doling out long sentences to crime
victims ;-) .
Farmers growing GM crops 'must face tougher laws'
By Steve Connor Science Editor
26 November 2003 the independent
Permission to allow farmers to grow GM crops must not be given unless
the law protecting the environment is strengthened, government advisers
recommended in a report published yesterday.
The public had a right to expect that organic food remains largely
uncontaminated by GM crops and farmers must take all necessary
precautions to limit cross-contamination, the report, which comprised
nine recommendations, said.
The Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission, which was set
up to advise the Government on bio-science issues, said that consumer
choice should be at the heart of any future policy on GM food.
Professor Malcolm Grant, chairman of the commission, said farmers
growing GM crops should follow legally enforceable rules to ensure
minimal cross-contamination with nearby organic crops.
He said: "We have made no assumptions whether the commercial growing of
GM crops will get the go-ahead or not. Like the country as a whole, the
commission is made up of people with very different views on GM. This is
one of its strengths. Crucially, we have been able to agree on a series
of recommendations which the Government will need to take into account."
If GM crops were allowed, the commission said, a management protocol for
such farmers should be established, which resulted in a minimal
threshold of 0.9 per cent cross-contamination with any organic crops
growing near by.
But because most organic farmers already followed a much smaller
contamination threshold of 0.1 per cent, it was incumbent on GM farmers
to work to even tighter standards, the commission added.
Another recommendation was for the cost of environmental damage caused
by the introduction of GM crops to be paid for, where possible, by
insurance cover but with the possibility of receiving compensation from
the biotechnology industry.
Peter Riley of Friends of the Earth said that he broadly welcomed the
commission's recommendations but that biotechnology companies should be
strictly liable for any harm caused by GM crops.
He added: "If [the Government] caves in to GM-industry pressure, it must
ensure that tough legislation is in place to allow farmers and the
public to grow and eat GM-free food."
The Soil Association, which provides licences for organic farmers,
welcomed the fact that the commission's report had given the Government
clear recommendations. Peter Melchett, the association's policy
director, said: "The commission has put the choices we face clearly in
front of the Government."
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