GeneWatch PR: Massive public support for tighter control of GM waste

<p>Embargoed until 00.01 hours Monday 10th January 2000</p>
<p>The conclusive results of a new MORI poll (1) show that the vast majority of
the British public support tightening the controls on waste disposal from factories
and laboratories using genetically modified micro-organisms (GMMs).</p>
<p>Commissioned by GeneWatch UK, the independent policy research group that monitors
developments in genetic engineering, the poll shows that:</p>
<li>83% believe that limits should be set on the release of GMMs in waste –
only 3% disagree;</li>
<li>88% believe that waste from factories and laboratories using GMMs should
be monitored – only 2% disagree;</li>
<li>86% believe that information about the use of GMMs and waste should be freely
available to the public – only 3% disagree.</li>
<p>GMMs are being used throughout the UK for research and to make drugs. However,
research conducted by GeneWatch UK last year revealed that living GMMs are being
released into rivers and the atmosphere in waste from factories and laboratories,
unmonitored by any Government agency (2).</p>
<p>&quot;Although Government regulators say these releases are safe, there are
no limits set on the levels of GMMs that can be released, no monitoring and
no comprehensive information on how GMMs are being used,&quot; said GeneWatch
UK’s Director, Dr Sue Mayer. &quot;Without legal limits on the numbers
of GMMs that can be released in waste, companies are being given free rein to
pollute the environment and never face any penalties for doing so.&quot;</p>
<p>Recently, the Environment Minister, Michael Meacher, instructed the Health
and Safety Executive (which is responsible for regulating the use of GMMs in
laboratories and factories – so-called ‘contained use’) to investigate
options for making waste management information available to the public (3).
The HSE is due to report to the Minister in January.</p>
<p>&quot;Mr Meacher’s initiative is important and very welcome but the Minister
must go further - the overwhelming view of the British public is that there
should be tighter regulation of GM waste, not just information about waste management,&quot;
said Dr Mayer. &quot;GeneWatch UK is calling for standards to be set, monitoring
to take place and public information to be provided. Without all three of these
steps, not only may public health and environmental protection be compromised,
but the Government will lose the confidence of the public.&quot;</p>
<p>GeneWatch UK is sending the results of the opinion poll to Mr Meacher and the
Health and Safety Executive, calling on them to take urgent action in response
to the strength of public feeling.</p>
<p align="center">- ends -</p>
<h2>Further Information: </h2>
<p>Please contact:<br>
Sue Mayer, GeneWatch UK<br>
Tel: +44 (0)1298 871898<br>
Fax: +44 (0)1298 872531<br>
Email: <a href=""></a></p>
<p>For further information about the opinion poll results, please contact:</p>
<p> Michele Corrado or Kay Wright at MORI<br>
Tel: + 44 (0)171 928 5955<br>
Email: <a href=""></a><br>
kay.<a href=""></a></p>
<h2> </h2>
<h2>Notes to Editors:</h2>
<li> 1,962 adults aged 15+ interviewed face-to-face by MORI, in-home between
2-7 December 1999 at 145 sampling points throughout Great Britain. Data have
been weighted to reflect the national profile. A ‘split sample’
technique was used whereby half the sample was given information that &quot;Government
regulators have passed these GMMs as being safe, but there are no legal limits
on the levels of GMMs that can be released in waste, and no results of monitoring
are publicly available&quot;. The other half of the sample was not given this
information. The results from the two samples were not significantly different.
See attached results for full details of findings.</li>
<li>&quot;Leaking from the Lab? The ‘Contained’ Use of Genetically
Modified Micro-Organisms in the UK&quot; GeneWatch UK, Tideswell. Executive
summary and press release available at:</li>
<li>Health and Safety Executive. Making waste management information publicly
available. Options Analysis – Discussion Paper. November 1999.</li>

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