Debate, What Debate?
1st July, 2003
The GM public debate, which runs throughout June and July, is the public’s chance to express any concerns it may have over the growing of GM crops in Britain. Andy Rowell explains why your participation is vital
We’ve been here before. In 1998 the government was all set to start growing GM crops commercially in Britain. Many farmers, desperate for revenue and lured by the industry’s outspoken promises, were willing. Yet Britain remained GM-free, and has done to this day. Why?
Simple; consumers said they didn’t want the technology.
That same year the government agreed under pressure from English Nature to undertake a series of crop trials – known as farm-scale trials – to assess the potential environmental impacts of growing GM crops. There was a voluntary agreement with industry that the latter would not commercialise until the results of the farm-scale trials were known.
In September 2001 the government advisory body on GM – the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission (AEBC) – produced a report called Crops on Trial, which argued that the trials should not form the sole basis of the decision about whether to grow GM crops or not, and that there should be a public debate on the subject. Crops on Trial also said that the public should evaluate the farm-scale trial results.
The AEBC’s stance led the government to announce in July 2002...
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