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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 June, 2003, 19:14 GMT 20:14 UK
Lucky few debate GM issues
Protesters in Glasgow
A peaceful protest was held before the debate
A debate on the future of genetically modified crops has taken place in Glasgow - but only 150 people were able to attend.

The conference-style event was the latest in a series of six national debates sponsored by the UK Government to gauge the views of the public.

All the tickets available for the event had been taken, according to organisers.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) criticised the government for allowing so few people into the debate, saying the event was far from being a consultation.

The vast majority of those who turned up to the Quality Hotel in Glasgow's Gordon Street were opposed to GM crops.

One meeting of 150 people, to take the views of five million Scots, is anything but consultation
Roseanna Cunningham, SNP MSP
Several dozen opponents unfurled banners outside the hotel saying `Scots say no to GM crops' during a peaceful protest.

The debate had been organised by an independent steering board of experts from a wide field of industry.

Linda Martin, 47, from the Black Isle, said: "I am a consumer who simply does not want genetically modified crops, and cannot understand why so much money is being spent on developing them."

Professor Jeff Maxwell, a member of the steering board who lives in Aberdeen, said it was important to nurture debate.

He said: "The crucial thing has been to get people to debate the issues with each other."

Ongoing tests

"These events are introductory meetings in the various areas of the UK, and will encourage people to take away the material and the information on offer and hold their own meetings to discuss the issues."

Britain is one of the few places in the world where GM crops are still not grown commercially.

Tests on several types of seed have been ongoing at a number of sites in the UK for the last three years.

It had originally been hoped to have initial results of the trials known before the series of national debates got under way.

The five other areas where the regional debates have been staged are Birmingham, Swansea, Taunton, Belfast and Harrogate.

'Sham'

Scottish National Party environment spokeswoman Roseanna Cunningham said: "The government's consultation exercise is nothing but a sham.

"One meeting of 150 people, to take the views of five million Scots, is anything but consultation.

"The reality is that feelings run so high that dozens were locked out of the meeting, losing their voice - just as the government intended."




WATCH AND LISTEN
Reporting Scotland's Louise Bachelor
"There were only 150 tickets available for what's supposed to be a national event"



SEE ALSO:
Limited places for GM debate
11 Jun 03  |  Scotland
Timeline: Scotland's GM crops
11 Jun 03  |  Scotland
Public debate on GM crops begins
03 Jun 03  |  Science/Nature
Q&A: GM and politics
26 Jul 02  |  Science/Nature


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