THE WELSH Assembly is fully committed to developing strict co-existence measures to protect traditional and organic farming from the threat of contamination from genetically modified crops.

Carwyn Jones, the Assembly‘s rural affairs minister, gave the re-assurance as he prepared to attend a meeting of the European Regions Network in Florence on Friday February 4.

“We intend to put in place a strict co-existence regime in Wales, consistent with our legal obligations,” Mr Jones insisted.

“One of the issues that will be discussed at the meeting is whether to join some of our other counterparts in signing a Charter for the Regions.

“We would, of course, have to be sure that any such charter is consistent with our objectives and legal framework.”

Several debates over the last four years indicated that a majority of Assembly members opposed the commercialisation of GM crops, because of the damage it could do to the clean, green image of Welsh food, and the possible impact on conventional crops and wild plants species.

Mr Jones added that there was no likelihood of GM crops being grown in Wales for some time, but he was keen to take a proactive approach to protecting agriculture from being adversely affected if the situation arose.

The Network, of which Wales was a founder member, was established in November 2003.

It aims to allow politicians and scientists to take forward the EC‘s recommendation for the development of national strategies and best practice in regard to GM crops.