19 May 1999
Former rural chief slams green groups
By FWi staff
RESEARCH into genetically modified (GM) crops is being hampered by single-issue pressure groups, claims the former head of the Countryside Commission.
Richard Simmons retired as chairman of the commission before it merged with the Rural Development Commission to become the Countryside Agency last month.
The greatest care should be taken in the testing of GM products, he will tell the annual dinner of the British Agrochemicals Association in London tonight.
Mr Simmons has sent to Farmers Weekly an outline of the after-dinner speech that he intends to give this evening.
He will tell guests: “I deplore the growing practice of political groups who are intolerant, loud mouthed and play upon emotion rather than relying on fact.”
Mr Simmons will say that he understands the publics genuine concern about the speed and potential knock-on effects of GM foods.
But he will claim that consumer fears about GM crops are being exploited by those who are malicious, promoting their own political agenda, or who are simply batty.
“The worst of the single-issue lobbyists know that their coffers will do very nicely thank you if they can be seen to shout the loudest,” he will tell diners.
“It is high time for the honourable, constructive and responsible bodies to lower the temperature of debate and start to shed more light than heat on these vital issues.”