ANTI-GM campaigners have reacted angrily to the ministerial statement on the co-existence of GM and non-GM crops made by environment minister Phil Woolas.
In his statement Mr Woolas said that GM crops may be approved for cultivation here in the future, if they pass the rigorous safety assessment procedure that is in place.
It comes as Defra published a summary of more than 11,600 responses to its coexistence consultation paper.
“We need to be ready for that possibility, and the consultation on coexistence measures has been an important step forward in that process,” said Mr Woolas.
“We will now await various developments before taking our coexistence plans any further, but our intention remains to have pragmatic measures in place before any commercial GM cropping.”
These developments included waiting for outstanding research results, commissioning new research, and waiting for an agreement of thresholds for GM presence in seeds.
Commenting on Phil Woolas’s statement, Pete Riley of GM Freeze said that Defra’s evidence base for their proposals was weak and that key policies like seed threshold were needed before decisions could be made about coexistence.
“The Minister now apparently agrees with us. So why did Defra go ahead with the consultation in the absence of these vital bits of the jigsaw? The legal opinion GM Freeze submitted over a year ago raised serious questions about the legality of what Defra was proposing on seven counts.
“Instead of answering these points, the Minister has apparently decided to shelve the issue for the time being. The Government’s policy on GM crops is a farce and has been since 1997.”
Liberal Democrat shadow Defra secretary, Chris Huhne MP said that ministers should not give any go-ahead for commercial planting until they can state confidently that GM varieties would not contaminate non-GM foods and that they are safe:
“This is essential for consumers who prefer non-GM foods, but also for organic farming which is the fastest growing part of British agriculture,” he said.