THE ENVIRONMENTAL Audit Committee has declared itself “very disappointed” by the government‘s response to the committee‘s critical report on the GM farm scale trials.

The select committee described the government response as “clearly unsatisfactory”.

The EAC published its report on the farm-scale trials on March 5, arguing that the trial results could not be regarded as adequate grounds for a decision in favour of commercial growing of GM crops in the UK.

Four days later, the government announced that it had made just such a decision.

MPs in the select committee said this showed that the government had not bothered to consider in depth their objections to GM commercialization.

In its response to the audit committee‘s report, received by the EAC on April 28, the government stated that it “continues to stand by the design and operation” of the farm-scale trials and refused to accept any of the criticisms formulated by the committee.

In its statement, the government revealed that it will consult on whether the labelling threshold for adventitious GM presence should be set lower than the EU standard (0.9%) for organic products.

It also promised to consult on options for compensating non-GM farmers who suffer financially because a GM presence exceeds statutory thresholds.

The select committee, however, stated that the government had failed to address the issue of liability properly, and it also expressed regret that the government had failed to take the opportunity to respond openly and constructively to the committee‘s criticism.

“It is unfortunate that the government has not responded in a more constructive way to our report. The public at large are very concerned about issues relating to GM and will regard the government‘s failure to engage in a proper debate with the committee on this matter as a sign of weakness.”