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6-Regulation: Anti-GM campaigners in Wales cry foul as UK GMO report is 'buried'

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TITLE:  GM lobbyists cry foul as major report is 'buried'
SOURCE: The Western Mail, UK, by Ceri Jones
DATE:   Jan 10, 2003

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GM lobbyists cry foul as major report is 'buried'

THE row over whether National Assembly members were kept in the dark over a 
damning UK government report on genetically modified crops is likely to 
continue. Anti-GM campaigners in Wales have written to Michael Meacher, 
Minister of State (Environment and Agri-Environment) to ask why Wales's AMs 
were not told about the contents of the report before a crucial debate last 
month. Plaid Cymru agriculture spokesman Rhodri Glyn Thomas will also 
question Welsh Rural Affairs Minister Mike German over whether he knew in 
advance about the report.

The report, which could threaten plans to grow GM crops commercially, 
revealed that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are interbreeding with 
natural crops and weeds. It was released by the Department of the 
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on Christmas Eve, just days after AMs 
debated the issue. Although in principle in favour of a GM-free Wales, the 
Assembly on December 18 voted to accept new regulations relating to the 
deliberate release of GMOs in Wales.

GM Free Cymru - which was set up after successful protests against GM crop 
trials in Pembrokeshire - has written to Mr Meacher complaining about the 
way the report was "buried" on the Defra web site on Christmas Eve, and 
asking for an explanation as to why AMs were not told of its contents. "AMs 
who debated the Draft GM Regulations on 18 December say that they were not 
aware, or were not made aware, of the existence or the contents of the 
report. Why not?" asked Dr Brian John of GM Free Cymru.

"If the information in the report had been made available to AMs on or 
before December 18th, we are convinced that the Draft Regulations as tabled 
would not have been approved. "We are convinced there is a major conspiracy 
here, either within Defra or within the Welsh Assembly."

Mr Thomas, who is due to meet with members of GM Free Cymru today in 
Haverfordwest, said he would be questioning Mr German over what he knew. "I 
think there is a real issue here as to whether Defra is sharing information 
with the Assembly," he said. "And, if it is happening, whether Mike German 
is passing on this information to people who have an interest in this 
issue. "I want to know whether he knew about the report in advance of the 
Assembly debate. If he did, why did he withhold the information. And if he 
did not, why not?"

Scientists monitoring British GM crop trials found that genes from oil-seed 
rape, engineered to be resistant to herbicides, contaminated conventional 
crops up to 200 yards away and also interbred with weeds.



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