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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 19 February, 2003, 16:08 GMT
Conference to discuss banning GM crops
Campaingers want Lakeland declared free of GM crops

A national park authority has decided to host a major conference to consider becoming a GM-free area.

The conference could lead to the Lake District, and other national park authorities, asking the Government and European Commission to help make national parks free from genetically modified foods.

The decision to hold a conference was taken following a meeting on Wednesday of the Lake District National Park Authority's policy and overview committee.

The committee discussed a motion from South Lakeland Friends of the Earth.

It called for the Authority to make use of a new EU directive which allows the Commission to exempt areas from the growing of particular GM crops if there are good reasons for doing so.

'Clear duty'

The committee also agreed it would write to the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, asking to be consulted on future decisions on the release of GM crops.

South Lakeland Friends of the Earth's GM campaigner, Marianne Bennett, said: "We are delighted that the Lake District National Park is taking this issue so seriously.

"The authority has a clear duty to safeguard the park's environment. "This must include doing what it can to protect it from GM pollution.

"Under the EU directive it can ask the Commission to ensure that GM crops are not grown in their area. We hope that the Lake District and other national park authorities will take advantage of this opportunity."

Friends of the Earth launched its GM-free Britain Campaign in October 2002 to persuade local authorities to take action against GM food and crops in their area.



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