GENTECH archive


Brit attempt to block public's concern about frankenfoods

Having announced it would have an emergency statement/debate on Tuesday
pm, the brit government did something in attempt to damp down public
concern about genetically manipulated food. 

This is the BBC's report, written in an obvious hurry.



BBC Tuesday, February 16, 1999 Published at 17:17 GMT

'Confidence' move on GM food

Minister for Food Safety-Jeff Rooker:   Public safety is our priority. The
government has acted to try to reassure consumers that 
genetically-modified food is safe. 
The safety of consumers is the government's first priority.

Jeff Rooker told the House of Commons the public could have "confidence",
despite growing concerns.

Mr Rooker said all GM foods passed through "a process of very thorough
scrutiny by a committee of experts" before being released for public

He said that because of the work of the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods
and Processes "no food comes on to the market unless it is safe".


He added that GM foods were a development that could be a "huge potential
benefit to society" and may stop tons of chemicals being dumped onto

  But shadow agriculture minister ,Tim Yeo called for the government to
announce "a three-year delay before herbicide-tolerant and
insect-resistant crops can be planted commercially". Also that  current
research should be completed before approval is given.

Mr Yeo warned that public confidence in the safety of GM food was being
damaged by the government's "mishandling" of the issue.

He said the only way to restore public confidence would be to recognise
environmental and health concerns and ensure decisions were taken in an
open way by "ministers whose independence and integrity can be relied on".

The statement follows a scare on GM foods after some scientists argued
that the immune system of rats was damaged after eating GM potatoes.

Prime Minister Tony Blair insists the foods are safe and is resisting a
ban on GM products.

He said: "This is a new science and a new technology so we should proceed
with very great care and very great caution, and with a strongly
regulatory process. That is precisely what we are doing."

But many environmental groups, including Friends of the Earth and
Greenpeace, are calling for a five-year moratorium on the commercial
production of GM crops in the UK.
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