info4action archive



1) Friday, September 17, 1999 Government acted illegally on GM (Govt will not
order that they be pulled up will leave it up to court ruling) 

1) Friday, September 17, 1999 Government acted illegally on GM GM crops have
faced sustained opposition from campaigners Green campaigners have scored a
victory over ministers after the government announced it was wrong to allow
changes to a trial of genetically-modified food. 
But Environment Minister Michael Meacher said the decision not to contest a
judicial review won by Friends of the Earth was made on technical grounds and
was not based on fears over the crop's safety. 
The case centres on changes the government allowed to trial crops of GM food
owned by AgrEvo UK Ltd. 
FoE had claimed the government was wrong to allow the firm to change the GM
crop being tested without submitting a new application. 
They also challenged the decision to quadruple the area of land used and
the length of the trial from six months to one year. 
Mr Meacher said: "Following legal advice the government has decided not to
contest the judicial review proceedings instigated by Friends of the Earth in
respect of licensing of certain GM trials." 
Technical defeat 
Mr Meacher said he was conceding defeat only on one "narrow, technical matter"
- the power to vary the permission granted. 
He insisted: "There are no health, safety or environmental issues involved." 
But he said AgrEvo UK would not be ordered to pull up the crops although he
recognised FoE might ask the courts to make such an order. 
"If an application is made to the courts, they will give a ruling," he said. 
Mr Meacher added: "This is a technical issue, not one of safety. The
government's programme of farm-scale crop trials will continue. 
"It is absolutely vital that we have these trials. They will tell us what
effect, if any, growing GM crops may, or may not have, on Britain's wildlife."
>From Adrian Bebb <>

> FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday 17th September 1999
> Confusion Follows Cave-in Over FOE Court Challenge
> The Government has thrown up its hands in the face of Friends of the
> Earth's legal challenge to the GM trials programme. Environment Minister
> Michael Meacher has conceded that the decision to allow AgrEvo to go
> ahead with farm-scale trials and other plantings of winter oilseed rape
> was unlawful. The Government will not defend FOE's application for a
> judicial review when it comes to Court.
> But AgrEvo announced last Friday that it is to continue with its
> farm-scale trials of winter oilseed rape. These trials will continue
> despite the Government's admission that they have no legal
> justification. Three trials have already been planted, but the fourth
> has now been potsponed.
> Commenting, FOE Policy Director Tony Juniper said:
>         "This humiliating climb-down puts the whole GM trials programme
> into complete chaos. We caught the Government fiddling the law. They
> have admitted their responsibility and will not contest our legal
> challenge. But they will let the farm-scale trials go ahead anyway. It
> is nonsense to pretend that this is a technical matter. This decision
> allowed a new crop to be grown, over four times the previous area, for
> twelve months rather than six. The trials should of course be stopped at
> once.
>         Now we know that the law will be bent to suit the big biotech
> companies. And we know that the Government will do nothing to put
> matters right even when they are caught red-handed. The public can no
> longer have any confidence that the Government is neutral on the GM
> issue, or even vaguely competent. Our campaign on GM food will continue,
> and we will  be seeking Counsel's opinion urgently on how to pursue our
> legal case."
> 1.      FOE was granted leave for a judicial review of the Government's
> decision to allow planting of winter oilseed rape with a new consent
> being required under the EU Deliberate Release Directive. This decision
> allowed AgrEvo to change the GM crop being tested (from spring to winter
> oilseed rape) without submitting a new application, quadruple the amount
> of land covered by farm-scale trials, to an area the size of Southampton
> (from 1,250 ha to 5,000 ha), and grow the crop for 12 months rather than
> 6.
> The decision was made by officials at the Department of Environment,
> Transport and the Regions; it is not even clear if any Government
> minister was ever consulted. The decision removed any chance of AgrEvo's
> application being put to the Government's  reformed ACRE committee
> (Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment), which was set up to
> ensure greater scrutiny of GM development.
> --
> "The idea that public transport has become more expensive since we came
> into office is not the case, certainly with regard to the tube and the
> buses. Over the last two years fares have risen no more than RPI (Retail
> Price Index) plus three".
> "Aeroplanes are very carefully controlled. They are not allowed to fly
> below a certain height - except on landing".
> Glenda Jackson
> Candidate for Mayor of London
> BBC Online
> 25th August 1999
> Note: This site was rapidly amended, on 26th August, but much of the
> flavour of the original is still preserved ...
> --
> Telephone:      0207 566 1657 (w)
>                 0385 236974 (mobile: jointly with Neil Verlander)
> Pager:          07654 663774
> Fax:            0207 490 0881
> ----------------------
> Any personal opinions do not necessarily reflect the policy of Friends
> of the Earth, particularly in so far as they concern politicians with
> whom we may have to do business in future.

Adrian Bebb
Food and Biotechnology Campaigner
Friends of the Earth

Tel 0113 242 8153
Fax 0113 242 8154

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