20 April 1998
Government drops ban on GM crops
THE Government is dropping plans to impose a moratorium on planting genetically modified (GM) crops in Britain after taking legal advice.
Jeff Rooker, a junior agricultural minister, said the Government could not stop the use of GM crops because they had already been approved by the European Union.
English Heritage and three other Government conservation agencies have called for a three-year ban on growing GM crops in the UK.
But Mr Rooker admitted the climbdown during a hearing in Parliament of the Environmental Audit Committee. Minutes passed to The Guardian by Friends of the Earth show that Mr Rooker is sceptical about planting genetically-engineered crops but believes he cannot stop them.
“What we can do of course is to influence the industry in its code of practice as to how they will be managed and used,” he said.
Ministers are said to be hoping that the controversy over whether to licence modified oil seed rape could be delayed by the manufacturers themselves.
- The Guardian 20/04/98 page 9