13th October 2006
Today, GeneWatch UK has said that if a voluntary, biotech industry-controlled scheme is allowed to decide when compensation is given to farmers whose crops suffer GM contamination, it will be like 'putting dracula in charge of the blood bank' (1).
GeneWatch is responding to the Government's consultation on the coexistence of GM crops with non-GM and organic crops (2). In the consultation document, DEFRA says that setting up a voluntary (industry-led) scheme to administer compensation to non-GM and organic farmers who suffer economic losses as a result of GM crops being grown, would be 'cheaper and more straightforward to establish and operate' than a statutory, independent approach (para 170). DEFRA reveals that the biotech industry is already preparing a voluntary redress 'charter', that it hopes Government will adopt.
The Government is also proposing that farmers growing GM crops are governed by a mixture of statutory rules on separatation distances and industry codes of conduct.
"The biotech industry is pressing to be judge and jury on GM crop contamination and the Government looks set to take its lead", said Dr Sue Mayer, GeneWatch UK's Director. "Public confidence in the Government on GM issues has taken a battering in the past - it will evaporate if they go ahead with this plan".
The closing date for responses to the consultation is Friday 20th October 2006.
Sue Mayer on 01298 871898 (office); 07930 308807 (mobile)
Notes to editors:
- DEFRA consultation on proposals for managing the coexistence of GM, conventional and organic crops. Response from GeneWatch UK.13th October 2006. Click here to read consultation.
- The DEFRA consultation on 'proposals for managing the coexistence of GM, conventional and organic crops', can be found at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/gmnongm-coexist/index.htm
The closing date for responses is Friday 20th October.