Wednesday, October 21, 1998 Published at 19:16 GMT 20:16 UK
Tough controls for gene crops
The new measures were announced to a Lords committee
The government has announced tighter controls over the first commercial plantings of genetically modified crops in this country.
A new ministerial Biotechnology and Genetic Modification group will be set up to look at the whole issue chaired by Dr Jack Cunningham and a committee of experts will also consider the ethical consequences of GM crops.
The first commercial plantings of GM strains will be strictly limited to monitor for ecological effects compared with conventional crops.
Mr Rooker told the committee: "People might argue about the nanny state but people want the comfort of knowing the government and the regulatory authorities are looking at this on a long-term basis."
There have already been attacks on trials of GM crops by eco-warriers who are considered about their effect on the environment.
Mr Meacher said: "The gap between public opinion and what many of the experts in the industry are saying is now very large and that has got to be closed."
Later, Dr Cunningham told the Soil Association's Lady Eve Balfour Memorial Lecture the group he would chair had been briefed to "consider issues relating to biotechnology, in particular those arising from genetic modification".
Dr Cunningham also called on the organic movement to convince farmers of the demand for organic food.
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