GENTECH archive


brit administration insists too much for own good

Gm Food Research 'Will Go On' 
>From the Press Association
Sunday February 14, 1999 12:21 pm

Cabinet "enforcer" Jack Cunningham has insisted the Government would not
call a halt to research into genetically modified food - saying it would
be "ridiculous" to bring the bioscience industry "grinding to a halt"
because of a leaked report on research into GM potatoes that suggested
there were risks. Earlier he had insisted that GM foods on sale in the UK
are safe - and promised protecting people and the environment were the
Government's "first priorities".

He told GMTV: "Because there's been some dispute about some genetically
modified potato experiments in the laboratory - that is no reason to
suggest that we should bring the whole of our bioscience and GM technology
and research grinding to a halt." Dr Cunningham added: "That would be a
ridiculous thing to do because of some experiments, the results of which I
emphasise are not clear and in dispute." And in an article for The
Observer, the former Agricultural Minister said: "We must do so in ways
that do not deny to our people the economic, environmental, healthcare and
other benefits that flow from technological and other advances. "That
would be an abdication of the responsibility placed on us. We will not let
it happen."

Dr Cunningham - speaking for the Government as chairman of the Cabinet
Committee on Biotechnology - again rejected calls for a ban on GM foods
and a moratorium on growing GM crops.

He reiterated that only three GM food products were now sold in the UK, a
tomato paste, a form of soya and a form of maize, plus some cheeses made
using rennet produced from GM material but not themselves containing GM
products. All had been through rigorous assessment under European law and
been approved by UK experts.

He highlighted the Government's commitment to a full labelling regime to
enable people to avoid GM foods if they chose, and said Britain was also
pressing hard for a European decision to ensure labelling of animal feed
containing GM material.

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