15 May 2000
Wales can debate GM-free status

By FWi staff

THE National Assembly for Wales does have the power to debate a motion declaring Wales GM-free, claims the assemblys presiding officer.

But Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas said the question of whether it could implement the decision may be tested in court, reports BBC Online.

Assembly agriculture secretary Christine Gwyther has faced intense criticism since she was unable to stop a GM trial at a farm at Sealand, Flintshire.

On Friday (12 May) assembly Conservatives tabled a motion of no confidence against Ms Gwyther, accusing her of failing to act to create a GM-free environment in Wales.

Now Welsh Liberal Democrats say independent legal advice to the presiding officer confirms that a ban could be imposed in Wales.

The assembly had earlier stated the trial could not go ahead without its permission, and environmental group Friends of the Earth reported that the test crop was scrapped.

But biotechnology company Aventis insisted the trial would go ahead unless it was told otherwise by British government scientists, and drilled the site last Wednesday (10 May).

The Liberal Democrats said that there are powers under the Environmental Protection Act and intend to test them in a motion to ban GM crops.

However, any legal action it is unlikely to be retrospective, reports BBC Online.