1 March 2000
Welsh to decide on GM seed

DEVOLUTION and GM politics converge when the Welsh Assembly agriculture committee considers adding a variety of genetically modified maize to the National Seed List, on Wednesday (01 March).

Before any seed can marketed or grown commercially in the UK, it has to go on to the National Seed List.

Ministers from Scotland, Wales Northern Ireland and Westminster can veto the acceptance of any seed.

Welsh Assembly agriculture secretary Christine Gwyther and the agriculture committee are basically minded to oppose genetically modified crops, reports the BBC.

Ms Gwyther could be asked by the committee to veto the GM maize.

The risk of cross-pollination to Wales could then see the seed banned across the UK, regardless of what other ministers decide.

The government insists that no GM crops can be grown commercially in any case until the results of current field-scale trials are known.

Meanwhile, agriculture is considered in a Financial Times analysis of Wales.

It reports that the average income for a livestock farmer in Wales in down to 4500 a year, a 25% drop since 1998, which itself had seen a drop of 50% on the year before.

Government calls for diversification are hampered by planning restrictions, poor roads and the refusal of banks to make substantial loans, says the FT.