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6-Regulation: Dorset County (UK) defeated GE crop ban

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                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  GM crop ban defeated
SOURCE: British Broadcasting Corporation, UK
DATE:   April 24, 2003

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GM crop ban defeated

If people will not buy it, then farmers won't grow it
Ralph Arliss, Green Party

Green campaigners in Dorset have failed in their attempt to make the county
a genetically modified (GM) crop-free zone. The motion to ban the growing of
genetically modified crops was defeated at a county council meeting by 21
votes to 16. Other motions however, including banning GM products from all
county council establishments, were passed by the council. Devon and Cornwall
County Councils have already passed legislation declaring their regions GM-free.
Dorset has seen several growing trials, which were the target of several
major demonstrations last summer. Ralph Arliss, from the North Dorset Green
Party, said the group was disappointed at the result as they had thought they had
overcome legal objections. "At a cabinet meeting last month they did not ban
GM crops as they thought it would be illegal to do it. "We told them that
European law does allow areas to declare themselves GM-free - it's called
Article 19. "We're very depressed about it, we really thought it would be
supported." He said their next move would be to lobby district councils to declare
themselves GM-free, and to step up pressure on supermarkets and the public. "If
people will not buy it, then farmers won't grow it", he said. Dorset County
Council organised a public meeting in February that attracted a huge turn-out
of local people. The proposal to declare the county a GM-free zone came out
of the meeting. At Thursday's meeting the council voted to inform the
government of their concerns over GM technology and to raise the issue at the South
West Regional Assembly.

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

SOURCE: Friends of the Earth UK, Press Release
DATE:   April 24, 2003

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Today Dorset became the latest council in the south west to voice deep
concern over GM crops and food, joining Cornwall and Devon in calling on the South
West Regional Assembly to take a position on GM. Friends of the Earth, which
launched its GM-free Britain campaign last year [1], welcomed the move, but
said it was disappointed the council had not taken a stronger stance.

GM-free Dorset campaigners, including local farmers and beekeepers,
demonstrated outside the meeting, urging councilors to go further and bid for GM-free
status in the county. The resolution passed at the full council session
urges the Government not to go ahead with commercial growing of GM crops in the
UK until damage to human health, the environment and farmers' livelihoods is
ruled out. It also calls for a south west regional position on GM; says the
council will ensure that GM foods are not supplied in council services such as
school meals and says the council will investigate establishing a local food
procurement policy [2].

The vote was close with nearly half of councillors (16 to 21) wanting to go
further and declare the county GM-free and use a new EU law to stop GM crops
being grown in the county [3].

Pressure for a GM-free South West is growing with South Gloucestershire,
Cornwall, South Hams District Council and Norton Radstock Town Council voting to
go GM-free. Devon County Council has stated its opposition to GM trials. The
South West Regional Assembly Environment Group is to discuss its position on
GM crops in June.

Friends of the Earth GM Coordinator in the South West Keith Hatch said:

"Farmers, beekeepers and concerned members of the public from all over the
county have travelled to Dorchester today to urge Dorset council to go
GM-free. Although the council hasn't gone as far as it could to stop GM crops being
grown in the county, it has made some really positive steps in the right
direction, joining Cornwall and Devon's calls for a south west position on GM.
The public has made it clear they do not want GM crops in Dorset, or anywhere
else in the region. The Regional Assembly must now act to protect the area as
a whole.

The Government is expected to decide later this year whether to allow GM
crops to be commercially grown in the UK. Commercialisation risks widespread GM
contamination of food, crops and the environment.

Friends of the Earth GM Campaigner Clare Oxborrow said:

"Friends of the Earth welcomes Dorset County Council's call for caution over
GM crops and food. It wants the Government to wait until it can prove that
they will not damage our health, our environment and farmers' livelihoods. Too
many questions about these impacts remain unanswered and we should not be
rushing headlong down the GM road until answers have been provided. The
Government must listen and not allow GM crops to be grown for sale in the UK".




[2] The majority of councillors (21 out of 37) supported the following
motion (The remaining 16 councillors wanted to go further and declare the county
GM-free and use a new EU law to prevent GM crops being grown in Dorset, see

"That Dorset County Council informs the government of its concerns about the
potential implications for genetic modification technology and asks that
commercial implementation should not be approved until such time as scientific
evidence has shown that there are no harmful impacts on human or animal health
or the environment.

That the views of the County Council be raised at the South West Regional
Assembly with the object of establishing a South West position.

That, so far as practicable, no food labelled as genetically modified be
supplied in any County Council establishment.

That officers prepare a report for consideration by the Cabinet at a future
meeting as to whether the County Council should adopt procurement policies
which encourage the provision of food from local sources.

That the County Council urges the Secretary of State for Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs to ensure that British Agriculture suffers no economic
disadvantage whatever decision on commercial growing of genetically modified crops
may be taken after this year's national debate."

[3] Article 19 of Directive 2001/18/EC.

The 16 councillors wanting to go further wanted the County Council to
consider each prospective GMO marketing consent (under directive 2001/18/EC), and
where appropriate write to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs and the European Commission seeking a condition under Article
19(3)(c) that exempts Dorset from the scope of such consent.

Contact details:

Friends of the Earth
26-28 Underwood St.
N1  7JQ

Tel: 020 7490 1555
Fax: 020 7490 0881


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