Wales’ cautionary approach to GM crop production has been undermined by sales of imported meat from animals fed modified soya, a conference has been told.

The Women’s Food and Farming event in Aberystwyth, heard criticism from beef producers who said Welsh family farms could not compete with the cheap imports.

One of the farmers, Karen Bellis, who runs 130 suckler cows and 130 sheep near Wrexham, said that if the Welsh Government was serious about supporting consumers, who opposed GM crop production in Wales, it should insist on clearer labelling on imported meat.

“Family farms in Wales are failing because they can’t compete with imported factory farmed meat. I am not a scientist questioning the rights and wrongs of GM technology, I am a farmer who wants a level playing field,’’ she said.

 “The wall that the Welsh Government has built to protect consumers has great big holes in it. If GM crops are so awful that we can’t have sight of these, let alone produce them, why are we being allowed to eat them? Why is the Welsh Government and the UK Government not pushing for absolute clarity on imported meat?’’

The conference, hosted by the Welsh branches of the WFFU and chaired by its former president, Ionwen Lewis, included presentations by experts from the WG.

One of those, Nic Shilton, explained that the administration had taken the most restrictive stance possible on GM crops without breaching European and UK law.

A blanket ban would be illegal under current rules but proposed legislation would allow individual regions to make this ruling, Mr Shilton said. This would mean that countries like Wales whose food and farming industry relied on a green, natural image could rule out GM production because it threatened that industry, he added.

A national register of GM growers in Wales is likely to be available for public scrutiny from next year.


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