GE - GM freeze: The law's on our side.
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- Date: Fri, 05 Mar 1999 15:48:59 +0000
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FOE PRESS RELEASE:
FREEZE: THE LAW'S ON OUR SIDE
A freeze on GM crops could be perfectly lawful, a key legal
opinion concludes today. The Government has argued that any
attempt to put a moratorium on the commercial planting of crops in
the UK would be contrary to European and world trade law. In a
letter to FOE, Agriculture Minister Jeff Rooker has argued that
"there is no legal power to impose a moratorium on the planting of
GM crops, and we have therefore had to take a different approach"
(29th October 1998) .
But the new opinion, obtained by Friends of the Earth and the
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds by international
barrister and academic Phillipe Sands, says that ?good arguments
can be made to support the view that a moratorium on the
commercial growing of GM seeds would not be contrary to EU and WTO
In support of his argument Mr Sands quotes:
. Article 100a(4) of the Treaty of Rome, which allows Member
states to apply national provisions on environmental grounds, if
certain conditions are met
. The WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement, which allows
Member states to provisionally adopt trade restrictive measures,
even if relevant scientific evidence is insufficient for a final
Commenting, FOE Legal Adviser Peter Roderick said:
"This opinion shows that the Government can find legal arguments
for a moratorium on the commercial growing of GM crops. Both
European and world trade law contains provisions which allow
national Government to act to protect the environment. Of course
we cannot act in an arbitrary way. But the evidence of
environmental dangers is already there and the precautionary
principle must be applied."
FOE Food Campaigner Pete Riley said:
"The UK Government's decisions on GM crops are not really driven
by international law, they are political decisions made for
domestic reasons. There is a powerful industry lobby, with
friends at the highest level of Government. They are determined
to get what they want, whatever public opinion may say.
International law has been used as a fig- leaf to cover that
Note: A full copy of Mr Sands' opinion is
available from Friends of the Earth
Friends of the Earth E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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