13 November 1998
Government will enforce GM guidelines ‘ruthlessly’

By FW Staff

GUIDELINES on genetically modified crops will be “rigorously and ruthlessly” applied by the Government.

No variety will be approved for release unless it offers direct benefits to consumers, according to junior farm minister Jeff Rooker.

Speaking at the Womens Food and Farming Union annual meeting in London, Mr Rooker said benefits, such as improved flavour and lower retail cost, were the key Government targets, not improved yields and cost saving for growers.

He also revealed that the GM promotion body SCIMACs first set of guidelines for the introduction of modified crops had been rejected earlier in the year.

A revised set of SCIMAC guidelines was now being finalised while the Government had called for an amendment of the EU Commission directive governing GM crops.

That would tighten the wording of risk assessments required and broaden the scope of the directive to include indirect environmental effects.

The Government would also conduct a review of pesticides and pesticide use on GM crops and was considering long-term monitoring.

“I want the comfort factor of long-term monitoring and surveillance so that if any problems arise 10 years hence, the Government will be able to deal with any questions on a factual basis using detailed records,” Mr Rooker said.

Once planting had begun he pledged to “rigorously and ruthlessly” apply regulations. And, if planting and management guidelines were not followed, the Health and Safety Executive would prosecute offenders.