SnowBall archive


GE - Welsh demo news & article on GM ban

Also there were excellent demos in Cardiff and Swansea on the GM issue
yesterday. The Swansea one was very successful with huge public interest
helped by some street theatre and a spot poll showing a huge mistrust of
GM foods. There was very good media coverage, it making most local welsh
news programs  

>From the Western Mail 5 Mar 99
         Seven councils ban GM food in schools 

         SEVEN Welsh councils have banned genetically modified foods
from school menus and old people's homes.

         Four others are said to be considering taking similar action
and the rest say they will follow government advice.

         Suppliers have been instructed not to provide GM foods to
Conwy, Vale of
         Glamorgan, Newport, Flintshire, Merthyr Tydfil, Pembrokeshire
and Rhondda Cynon Taff councils. It follows the recommendation of a
five-year ban by the Local
Government Association.

         Their action was welcomed yesterday by the Wales Green Party,
which targeted shoppers as part of the campaign for a total ban on GM

         Party members handed out leaflets at several supermarkets in
Wales urging
         shoppers to support their call for an end to the testing of
commercial crops as well as the use of GM foods in schools and old
people's homes.

         The protesters argued that genetic modification was interfering
with the basic matter of life and pointed to cases of deaths, misplaced
genes turning up in
         the wrong crops and unexpected allergic reactions.

         Some protesters donned decontamination suits and removed GM
foods from shelves and shoppers' trolleys. They later handed the goods
back to store managers.

Those opposed to GM foods say the Welsh Office should go further and ban
         throughout the public sector in Wales until it is proved that
they are safe.

         They have described it as an inherently imprecise technology
leading to
         unpredictable and hazardous results and say it should not be
forced upon
         countries which depend on Western help to improve their basic
living standards, particularly as other, more realistic, low-cost
alternatives exist. 

         The situation is being compared to the early days of the
nuclear industry when there was massive enthusiasm among the scientists
involved but also the fear
that they were rushing into its use without the ability to predict

         It is known that GM foods are found in some emulsifiers that
contain maize and which are used in products such as custard mixes and
the sauces used in baked
         beans and spaghetti. Many manufacturers are thought to be
unaware of precisely which emulsifiers contain the maize because of the
absence of labelling. 

         Only one site in Wales, in Monmouthshire, has been licensed for
outdoor GM
         crops - oilseed rape - but others, including the Institute of
Grassland and Environmental Research and the University of Wales,
Bangor, carry out research
         in laboratories. The problem of maintaining safety and
regulation in these
         sites has sparked controversy because of licensed discharges of

         Green Party spokesman Jim Killock said his members wanted all
         institutions in Wales to phase out this area of their work in
the interests of protecting their own reputations and protecting the
image of Welsh food as wholesome and unadulterated. 

         He said Bangor University should turn to more constructive and
safer ways to help the third world.

         Rhidian Mason, of the Farmers' Union of Wales, said that
generally speaking the union was against GM foods. 

         "It is our view that food should be conceived as natural, pure
         unadulterated but at the end of the day it is down to the
consumer as to
         whether they should purchase pure, organic food or food that
has been
         genetically modified," he said.

         Mr Mason said farmers may be unwittingly buying feed, such as
maize, to which GM organisms have been added but which does not have to
be labelled because it is chemically the same as the general product.

         Keith Jones, of the National Farmers Union, said, "We welcome
the introduction of biotechnological innovations into UK farming because
of the potential benefits they can give to the farmers and public in

         "However, there are perceived risks in the technology and we
believe these
         risks needs to be addressed and carefully monitored by the

         Roy Hancock


max in swansea
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