Government spin on gene crops

27 January 2000

Government spin on gene crops

THE government is making a subtle shift in its position on gene technology because of fears that poor publicity over genetically modified (GM) crops could threaten the whole life sciences industry.

The change involves a new emphasis on the medical applications of the technology, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Developments in this field are being highlighted at the expense of advances in crop technology.

Mo Mowlam, head of the Cabinet Office committee on biotechnology, articulated the new position at a meeting of the BioIndustry Association (BIA) this week.

The newspaper reports that the BIA is also attempting to insulate itself from any damaging publicity about GM crop technology.

It is considering whether to drop the half a dozen agricultural-biotech members it represents.

Meanwhile, new food standards agency chief Sir John Krebs is supporting the labelling of all ingredients derived from genetically modified (GM) ingredients.

Sir John said consumers needed the extra information to make their own choices about what they ate.

The call for the labelling of derivatives such as emulsifiers and processed oils has brought him into immediate conflict with food manufacturers and industry groups.

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