21 January 1999
Lords give go-ahead for GM crops
By Isabel Davies
A HOUSE of Lords committee has come out in favour of genetic modification in agriculture, concluding that the potential benefits far outweigh any risks.
In a report released this morning (Thursday), the European Communities Committee says any outright moratorium on the growing of genetically modified (GM) crops would be inappropriate.
There is no reason to doubt the safety of GM food provided a proper regulatory framework is in place, says the EC Regulation of Genetic Modification in Agriculture report.
But the Lords recommend that a new committee should be set up to take an overview of genetic modification in agriculture, particularly environmental issues.
And it recommends that food containing GM ingredients beyond an established threshold, perhaps 2%, should be labelled to aid consumer choice.
Changes to the EUs regulatory framework would speed up decisions and improve the approvals process, the report says.
Individual member states should have the right to opt out of growing certain crops.
Monsanto, the multinational biotechnology company behind many GM crops, welcomed the reports conclusions.
Exhaustive investigation had helped the House of Lords “distinguish fact from science fiction,” said Monsantos spokeswoman Ann Foster.
But environmentalists questioned the findings and some politicians greeted the report with caution.
Greenpeace said the Lords had fallen for Monsantos advertising campaign, and immediately renewed their call for GM crops to be baned.
Liberal Democrat Food Spokesman Paul Tyler MP said:
“We still do not know the risk involved with this new technology and therefore Government must apply the precautionary principle.”