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Brit GM FOOD CAMPAIGNERS FIGHT BACK



Thursday 27 May 1999
Press Association Top News

Supporters of genetically modified food have launched a fight-back with a
new scientific study which hails its potential benefits.

The move came as Prime Minister Tony Blair condemned the media for
whipping up "hysteria" over health fears.

His personal intervention followed a Nuffield Council on Bioethics report
which found that so-called "Frankenstein" Food could bring great benefits
to consumers and help prevent global hunger.

The influential think-tank said there was a "moral imperative" to make GM
crops available to developing countries, but argued that consumers should
be allowed to choose whether or not they ate GM foods.

At the Cabinet's weekly meeting, Mr Blair referred to the Nuffield report
in an attack on what he claimed was skewed reporting of the GM food
debate.

A Downing Street spokesman disclosed: "The Prime Minister said it was
extraordinary the extent to which the media barely reported reports such
as this but gave huge reports to anything which fed the hysteria."

The message was reinforced by the Tory chairman of a Lords sub-committee
which investigated the regulation of GM crops, Lord Reay, who warned that
European agriculture could become "technologically backward" if it
rejected the potential benefits.

But the continuing strength of feeling over the issue was demonstrated by
a seed firm's announcement that it was pulling out of GM crop testing
after becoming a target for vandalism.

CPB Twyford, based in Thriplow, Cambridgeshire, said attacks on fields of
trial crops were damaging its business. And opponents of GM food kept up
their opposition to what they claimed was the multi-nationals' clamour to
foist GM food on consumers.

Andrew Simms, author of a recent highly critical Christian Aid report on
GM farming in developing countries, said: "There is no genetic fix for
hunger and the new technology is being used to strengthen the grip of big
business over farming."


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