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Wednesday, 11 September, 2002, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Parliament launches GM inquiry
Oil seed rape field
Further crop trials have been approved
A full inquiry is to be made by the Scottish Parliament's health committee into the effect on humans of GM crop trials.

The decision follows the presentation of a report by Scottish National Party MSP Nicola Sturgeon about the "dangers" to the environment and to human health.

She said there were serious concerns over the toxic effect of the trials, possible allergies and their effect on antibiotic resistance.

The committee inquiry will also examine the risk assessment procedures set up by the government and why there has been no health monitoring of the population around the trial sites.

'Widespread concern'

Its findings will be published in December.

Anti-GM campaigner Anthony Jackson said: "This is a hugely important issue.

"There is widespread concern amongst the public, politicians and scientists around the health effects of GM crops and food."

Meanwhile, a committee set up by the UK Government to examine the issue of genetically modified crops is meeting in Edinburgh.

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon: Presented report

The Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission (AEBC) is steering a national debate aimed at helping people make up their minds about the GM crops.

The AEBS is taking evidence at the Royal Society in Edinburgh into whether Britain should allow commercial planting to take place.

The issues under discussion include consumer choice and who should be liable for any damage caused by genetically modified seeds.

The green light was given within the past week for a final round of crop trials in Scotland this autumn.

'Rogue material'

Environment Minister Ross Finnie approved plantings on sites at Daviot, Aberdeenshire, and Newport-on-Tay in Fife.

The new trials will be conducted by biotech company Aventis, which last month admitted that rogue material had contaminated previous crop tests.

Mr Finnie conceded that public confidence had been dented by the discovery but insisted the new trials had only been approved after "detailed scientific advice" over safety.

The three-year programme of GM crop trials in Scotland has provoked demonstrations, petitions and crowded public meetings.

One farm, at Munlochy on the Black Isle, has dropped out of latest round of trials, which will be harvested next summer.

See also:

16 Aug 02 | Science/Nature
26 Jul 02 | Politics
24 Jul 02 | Scotland
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