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No GM Free Wales



  Wednesday, 29 March, 2000, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK 
Welsh Assembly approves GM seed

The calls for a GM ban have been defeated

Welsh Agriculture Secretary Christine Gwyther has approved the use of a genetically-modified maize seed in the UK. 
In a statement Ms Gwyther said she had given her approval to approval to include the seed in the UK national seed list - despite her earlier support for a GM-free Wales. 

"I have concluded that the only reasonable, legal, way forward is for the application to be approved," she said. 

The move also went against the wishes of the Assembly's agriculture committee which had earlier urged her to vote against the listing. 

The genetically-modified T25 maize seed will now be approved for sale to farmers as animal feed. Ms Gwyther's counterparts in England and Scotland have already given their approval. 

The Assembly as a whole had previously said it favours Wales being a GM-free zone - a view supported by Ms Gwyther who said it would give Wales a very good marketing opportunity. 
But she had also expressed fears that any decision to go it alone in Wales might be subject to a judicial review and might not be able to be enforced. 

The environmental group, Friends of the Earth Cymru, reacted angrily to the decision. 

A spokesman for the organisation said: "The National Assembly for Wales has betrayed its people by giving the go-ahead for the first GM maize seed to go onto the market." 

The applicants for the licence, the Essex-based Avensis company, had always insisted the seed was safe. 

Safe for human health 

Des de Souza, of Avensis, said: "We are very proud that this variety of seed has performed to the standard considered for national listing. 

"The industry believes this is a technical issue. Farmers in Wales and the rest of the UK will be the ones that decide if they want to grow these varieties." 

Ms Gwyther had also had specific scientific advice on T25 from ACRE, the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment. 

It said T25 was safe for human health, the environment, and for use in animal feed. 

Its only concern was with the herbicide associated with T25, although it said it was confident that farm-scale trials would address this issue. 

The UK government told the European Commission in 1996 that it had no objection to T25 being placed on the European market. 

Most member states voted in favour of marketing consent in 1997, except for France, which followed in 1998 after a national debate on GM crops. 

 


Steve Emmott
Advisor-Genetic Engineering
Greens/European Free Alliance Group
European Parliament
1047 Brussels

Tel/fax +32 2 284 2026