GeneWatch PR: GM Public Debate 'meaningless' unless Government halts GM commercialisation decisions

Monday 3 March, 2003 - For immediate release

It has been revealed that the UK Government intends to proceed with its assessment of 18 GM crop applications awaiting a decision on comercialisation in Europe (1). DEFRA has admitted that some of these may get the go ahead for use in food, feed or for growing before the GM public debate is scheduled to end in September (2).

However, Scottish Environment Minister, Ross Finnie has stated that he considers that it would be 'premature' if any approvals were given before the public debate is completed in September.

"If the Government allows these GM crops to be approved before the public debate ends it will be a slap in the face for democracy," said Dr Sue Mayer, GeneWatch's Director. "Ross Finnie is right. It is premature to take these decisions now and suggests the Government is not acting in good faith."

It has also emerged that the results of the Farm Scale Evaluations (FSEs) with GM crops may be delayed and not available for discussion during the debate, even though this has now been extended into September. It was always said that the FSE results would be available in July but a letter from the Royal Society, which produces the journal which will publish the results, has revealed that they are unlikely to be published before September and may be even later (3).

"Having extended the timing of the public debate to September, everyone anticipated the public would be able to consider the FSE results. It now seems people have been misled. The Government?s handling of GM crops is a complete shambles," said Sue Mayer.

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For further information contact:

Sue Mayer on 01298 871898 (office) or 07930 308807 (mobile).

Notes to editors:

  1. 'Push for GM crops defies public debate.' The Sunday Herald, 2nd March 2003.
  2. GM crops awaiting approval are maize, potato, oilseed rape, cotton and soybean. For details, see
  3. See, for example, letter from Ross Finnie, Scottish Environment Minister to the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission.
  4. Letter from Professor John Enderby, Vice-President of the Royal Society, to Professor Malcolm Grant, Chair of the public debate Steering Board, dated 27th February 2003. See ?Correspondence from the Royal Society? at

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