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Correspondent Louise Batchelor at the GM conference
"The most likely conclusion is a forum on the future of GM food"
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Wednesday, 1 March, 2000, 07:37 GMT
GM crops debate call
GM crops
There are concerns over the introduction of GM crops
There are calls for an urgent debate on genetically modified crops after a disclosure that some seed could be approved for sale.

Rural Affairs Minister Ross Finnie is about to approve genetically modified maize seed for commercial sale in Scotland and Green MSP Robin Harper wants the matter to be debated by the Scottish Parliament.

The minister has the power to approve the placing of a GM seed on a national list - the first regulatory hurdle before seeds can be grown commercially.

Robin Harper
Robin Harper: Debate call
Mr Harper says that public concern over the issue merits a full debate by MSPs, and he is accusing the Executive of trying to ignore the issue.

Mr Harper said: "It's high time the Scottish Executive allowed the Scottish Parliament to start taking an active role in decisions over the future of GM crops and GM food in Scotland.

"GM issues are important to the public and are devolved to the Scottish Parliament but the Lab-Lib administration have been keeping their heads down, blocking my successive motions for a full debate on GM and just towing Tony Blair's line.

"I'm now calling for an urgent debate in parliament on the issue of GM seed approval and calling for a full debate on farm-scale trials of GM crops.

'Harm' potential

"I hope the rural affairs committee will be able to have a say on GM seeds as the Welsh rural affairs committee have been given by their minister.

"To approve genetically modified seeds for sale is completely jumping the gun and makes a mockery of Tony Blair's claim at the weekend that his government is not promoting GM technology over and above environmental concerns."

Prime Minister Tony Blair said at the weekend that he acknowledged there was "potential for harm" in GM crops.

Speaking at a GM food conference in Edinburgh, Cabinet Office Minister Mo Mowlam denied this was inconsistent with previous government policy.

The international conference on genetically modified foods is due to end on Wednesday, after which the chairman Sir John Krebs will draw up conclusions.

But anti-GM organisations have claimed the OECD conference was unrepresentative of public feeling.
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See also:

28 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Mowlam defends GM policy
27 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Blair shifts on GM food
06 Apr 99 |  Food under the microscope
Genetically-modified Q&A
06 Apr 99 |  Food under the microscope
GM food: A political hot potato
17 Feb 00 |  Sci/Tech
Farmers 'abandon GM crops'
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