16 June 1998
Britain to support fast-track
GM approval scheme
THE Government announced yesterday (Monday) that it would support a speedier system for ruling on the use of genetically modified (GM) crops in the European Union.
The move follows complaints from US multinationals, such as Monsanto, that it takes two years to win approval for introducing GM crops to the EU. The proposal will be debated by EU ministers in Luxembourg today.
Michael Meacher, environment minister, told a press conference yesterday that the application process for multinationals was time consuming.
“We do think some of the applications are unduly delayed. I am extremely keen to avoid giving the impression this is a move simply to make it easier for companies to move the process,” he said.
“There is no reduction in the rigour and thoroughness of the assessment, but if it can be done quickly as opposed to slowly, I am all in favour of it.”
But he emphasised that the application process could be speeded up without compromising on safety.
Meanwhile, Mr Meacher – who wouldnt be drawn on whether he thought GM crops were safe – has asked civil servants to investigate concerns expressed by conservationists that herbicide-resistant GM crops could be the final straw for wildlife facing heavy declines in their numbers. They are expected to report back next month.
The Advisory Committee on Releases into the Environment has launched a review into the possible pesticide effect of GM crops on non-target insects.
- Financial Times 16/06/98 page 14
- The Independent 16/06/98 page 3
- The Scotsman 16/06/98 page 5
- The Daily Telegraph 16/06/98 page 13