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9-Misc: Lake District National Park (UK) seeks GE free status

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TITLE:  Parks Seek GM Crop Exemption Status
SOURCE: PA News/The Scotsman, UK, by Amanda Brown
DATE:   Feb 18, 2003

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Parks Seek GM Crop Exemption Status

A National Park authority was today taking the first steps towards trying
to win GM free status for one of the most beautiful landscapes in England.

The Lake District National Park was considering asking the Government and
the European Commission to help with its aim.

Under a new EU directive, the Commission can exempt areas from the
growing of any particular genetically-modified crop if there are good
reasons for doing so.

In October last year Friends of the Earth launched its GM Free Britain
Campaign to persuade local authorities to take action against GM food and
crops in their area.

This includes writing to the Commission and the Government asking them to
prevent particular GM crops being grown in their area to protect the

Other action includes ensuring that no GM crops are grown on land which
they control and adopting a GM free policy for all goods and services for
which the authority is responsible; eg ensuring that school caterers
provide GM free food to schools.

South Hams District Council in South Devon last week voted to ask the
Commission and the Government to protect it from the growing of GM crops
under the EU directive.

Devon County Council has also discussed the issue and has called on the
Government to ban the commercial implementation of GM technology until
scientific evidence has shown there are no harmful effects.

It has also introduced policies to avoid GM food and crops.

And the South West Regional Assembly is to discuss the issue when it
meets next month.

Friends of the Earth said calls to go GM free are also being discussed by
a number of other authorities though the Lake District is the first
National Park to consider the issue.

FoE legal adviser Phil Michaels said: "We have written to the Lake
District National Park Authority explaining how it can make use of the
Deliberate Release Directive to protect the National Park from the risks
posed by GM crops."

"Under the Directive an Authority can ask the Commission to exempt their
area from the scope of a GM marketing consent."

"This is one of the best legal tools at the disposal of a concerned
authority that wants to protect its area from GM crops."

"We very much hope that the National Park will agree to take this step at
their meeting later today and have offered to give them further
assistance if they wish to discuss the issue further before making a
final decision."