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6-Regulation: Scottish Greens launch anti-GM crop bill

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TITLE:  Greens launch anti-GM crop bill
SOURCE: The Scotsman, UK, by James Reynolds
DATE:   Jun 12, 2003

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Greens launch anti-GM crop bill

COMPANIES developing GM crops will be liable for any "contamination" of
non-GM produce under legislation proposed by the Scottish Green Party.

As the nationwide round of debates on the future of genetically modified
crops reached Scotland, the Greens'spokesman on environment and rural
development, said they would introduce legislation aimed at discouraging
their cultivation.

Mark Ruskell, a regional list MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said his
party wanted to make biotechnology firms foot the bill for any loss
incurred by producers who cannot market their product as GM-free or
organic due to cross pollination.

As he lodged the proposal at the Scottish Parliament, he said that he
hoped the legislation could overcome the "legal mess" in the United
States where, he claimed, contamination of non-GM crops had cost the US
economy $12 billion between 1999 and 2001, while those affected have
struggled to recoup their claimed losses.

Although Mr Ruskell hopes to remove the limits of the existing law so
that GM-free producers affected by cross pollination can be compensated,
he conceded that the aim of the proposal was to make the development of
GM crops economically non viable.

He said: "If there are negative contamination effects arising from GM
crops, then this bill will make it impossible to grow GM crops in Scotland. "

"The strict liability for GM crops will lie with the biotech companies if
this bill is passed, as it should do. "

"It would also set down a model for adoption across not just the UK, but
the whole of Europe as well."

Mr Ruskell said his proposed bill would cover food processing as well as
production, and insisted it could be delivered within the powers of the
Scottish Parliament, drawing on precedents on strict liability.

The MSP also said the legislation was "complementary" to that proposed by
the SNP, which would impose a five-year ban on the growing of GM crops in
Scotland - despite the Executive's insistence that such a move is illegal
in the absence of evidence of harm.

He added: "The public has consistently shown that they are in opposition
to the technology and the impacts it causes. We have to take a stand on
GM now.

"This bill will protect the environment of Scotland and the farming
industry for future generations."

A public consultation on the Greens' legislation will be launched once
the required 11 other MSPs have signed up to the proposal within the next

Meanwhile, a large group of protesters demonstrated their opposition to
the national debate on GM crops, called GM Nation?, outside the Quality
Hotel in Glasgow last night.

Lead by the anti-globalisation group Globalise Resistance, they were
joined by 28 protesters from Moray, who handcuffed themselves together to
symbolise the 28 people arrested during the long series of protest
actions against GM crop trials at Munlochy.

Gordon McAlpine, co-ordinator for Moray GM Concern, said: "The issue is
simple. Most people don't trust multi-national companies to take care of
our long-term health and environment when profits are at stake. "

"So we call upon the Scottish Executive to follow the example of Wales
and Belgium and use their devolved powers to honour the precautionary
principle and declare Scotland a GM-free zone."

Backed and paid for by the government, the debates are being managed by
an independent steering board of experts on both sides of the argument.

But critics have said there is no point in having the debate - which will
help inform a report being submitted to the UK government in September -
before the results of the field scale crops trials are known.

Scotland's rural development minister, Ross Finnie said: "I'm wholly
opposed to any conclusions being arrived at before the results of the GM
trials are known."


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