BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Politics  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 16:03 GMT
Meacher attacks GM crops
GM confrontation: Feelings run high over possible risks
GM confrontation: Feelings run high over possible risks
Environment Minister Michael Meacher has denied that he is about to quit the government after he launched an outspoken attack on genetically modified (GM) crops.

Mr Meacher argued that biotechnology was not "necessary" to feed the world and highlighted his concerns at possible health risks to consumers.

There is not a scintilla of evidence suggesting that I should resign...the claim is not just wrong, worse, it is silly

Michael Meacher
His comments were effectively disowned by his government department - Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - who said Mr Meacher's comments were "his views".

Prime Minister Tony Blair is a known enthusiast of GM but DEFRA admitted there were "creative tensions" in the government over the issue.

Ministers are to announce later in the year whether they will allow GM crops to be grown commercially.

Resignation denial

Following newspaper speculation that he might be about to quit, Mr Meacher, in a statement issued via his spokesman, denied that he could resign over the issue.

He said: "This is an absurd invention. There is not a scintilla of evidence suggesting that I should resign. The claim is not just wrong, worse, it is silly."

We have been feeding ourselves perfectly adequately since overcoming problems of hunger in our early existence - GM is not necessary

Michael Meacher
Mr Meacher's attack on GM crops came during an interview with the Ecologist magazine.

He said: "The real problem is whether 10, 20, 30 years down the track, serious and worrying things happen that none of us ever predicted.

"It's these sorts of totally unpredicted problems that make me very, very cautious.

"The human race has existed on this planet for about a quarter of a million years."

Subject for debate

He added: "We have been feeding ourselves perfectly adequately since overcoming problems of hunger in our early existence. GM is not necessary."

Mr Meacher, who is MP for Oldham West and Royton, also questioned the motives of companies behind GM but said the government could not afford to conduct its own trials.

Earlier this month Mr Meacher admitted that a public debate on the issues surrounding genetically modified crops had got off to a slow start.

He said the government wanted to "give people an opportunity to have genuine discussions" about GM, because the debate had been "extremely polarised".

See also:

05 Feb 03 | Politics
29 Nov 02 | Politics
26 Nov 02 | Science/Nature
20 Nov 02 | Scotland
11 Sep 02 | Scotland
26 Jul 02 | Politics
26 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


 E-mail this story to a friend



© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes