GENET archive


6-Regulation: South Hams District (UK) declares itself a GE-freezone

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SOURCE: The Western Morning News, UK, by Aura Sabadus
DATE:   Feb 14, 2003

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Campaigners have congratulated a Westcountry council after declaring
itself the first district authority in the country to become free of
genetically modified organisms. Yesterday, South Hams District
councillors recognised the importance of getting a GM-free status for the
district, claiming the move was necessary for local economy and tourism.

The motion put forward by Coun Anne Ward states: "This council declares
that the district of South Hams will be kept free of genetically modified
crops and GM food and feed."

It adds: "To this end, the council commits to: request the Secretary of
State for Environment to provide legal protection for this district as a
GM-free area, in line with Article 19 of 2001/18/EC; ensuring that no GM
crops are grown on land over which it has control; and adopting a GM-free
policy - which includes the exclusion of all GM ingredients, derivatives
and the produce of GM-fed animals - for all goods and services for which
this council is responsible.

Dorset-based Friends of the Earth campaigner Keith Hatch welcomed the
news. He said: "It's a turning point which shows that South Hams are
taking a lead.

"It's very important that the council adopted the a firm line on
declaring itself GM-free. Having voted for article 19 of the EU
regulation, the council will be able to protect the area from any
commercial growing of GM crops. This means GM companies won't be allowed
to sell seeds to farmers living in GM-free areas. This is very good news
and I congratulate South Hams District Council for that."

Totnes-based anti-GM protester Richard Orrell said the council proved a
keen interest in listening to people's worries.

"It's so good to see that a democratically elected body has listened to
the concerns of local people," he said.

Coun Elizabeth Gerard said a GM-free status for the South Hams would
enhance green tourism in the area.

And organic farmer John Watson, co-owner of Riverford Farm said: "I'm
glad that the council got beyond the sticking point. Organic farming
brings a lot of money into the region and if this motion had not been
passed, we would have lost a lot."

Last night members of the scientific group, Egenis which will be launched
next month in Exeter also congratulated South Hams for the pioneering

Ginny Russell, speaking for the body said: "I think this shows that
people in the region are aware of this issue and it is very important for
people to understand this debate."

Egenis hopes to launch an investigation of the possibilities for
introducing genomically-based technologies into agricultural contexts in
the developing world in ways that are sensitive to the constraints and
advantages provided by local knowledge. The scientific body is also
interested in an investigation of the impact of knowledge of risk factors
for disease on medical practice.

A panel of guests including Phillip Webb, from the Human Genetics
Commission, Dr Gavin Roberts from Sciona and Egenis research associates
from law, medicine and sociology will introduce a debate on the impact of
genetic tests on society, to be chaired by Egenis Director, John Dupre on
March 3.