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Agriculture Sceretary Christine Gwyther
"To have a GM free Wales would be a wonderful marketing opportunity"
 real 28k

BBC Wales's Stephen Fairclough
"With public opinion seemingly against GM crops the pressure on Christine Gwyther will be intense"
 real 28k

Agriculture Secretary Christine Gwyther
"I would certainly not want to disrespect the wishes of the committee that shadows me"
 real 28k

Monday, 28 February, 2000, 13:53 GMT
Wales to vote on GM crops
Christine Gwyther
Christine Gwyther, not a fan of GM foods
The National Assembly Agriculture Secretary Christine Gwyther has called for Wales to become a GM-free zone.

Ms Gwyther was speaking as the Assembly's Agriculture Committee prepares to debate moves to allow genetically modified seed to grown commerically.

She told BBC Radio Wales that she would urge Assembly committee members to think carefully before they make a decision.

"I certainly have problems with GM in that I think to have a GM-free Wales would be such a womderful marketing opportunity for Welsh produce and I've always made that quite clear," she said.

"From my own point of view, I have to make sure that I won't be the subject of a judicial review if I say no to it and that's another reason why I want the committee (agriculture) to look very carefully at this."

The Assembly's Agriculture Committee will this week discuss taking the first steps towards allowing genetically modified seed to be grown commercially in Wales.

The consultation process also involves ministers in Northern Ireland and the Scottish Parliament.

Debate

Agriculture ministers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are required to sign-off recommendations for any seed to go on the National List - the first regulatory hurdle before seeds can be grown commercially.

The Welsh Rural Affairs Committee debates the GM seed question on Wednesday.

Labour only has four out of 10 members on the Welsh Agriculture Committee and the crucial vote will depend on three Plaid Cymru, two Conservative and one Liberal Democrat member.

GM Food
Friends of the Earth fears GM food could increase


Friends of the Earth said it could spark a new devolution row as the Assembly considered blocking the commercialisation of the first genetically modified seed in the UK.

The group also disclosed that members of the Scottish Parliament might lose any right to be consulted as Agriculture and Rural Affairs Minister Ross Finnie would take the decision alone.

Decision

In Northern Ireland, the suspension of devolved government means that Northern Ireland Office Minister Adam Ingram will make the decision.

FoE Biotechnology Campaigner Pete Riley said: "The Government's decision to devolve decision-making powers to the Welsh Assembly could scupper plans to commercialise GM crops.

"Welsh Assembly members have the chance to halt the creeping commercialisation of GM crops.

"We hope they'll take it. And we also hope that members of the Scottish Parliament will refuse to allow one minister to take this vital decision on his own."

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See also:

28 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Mowlam defends GM policy
26 Feb 00 |  Wales
GM protest ship 'will dock'
29 Jan 00 |  Sci/Tech
GM deal finds favour all round
03 Jan 00 |  Sci/Tech
Organic food 'proven' healthier

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