Meacher's attack on GM crops reveals tensions
A damning attack by Michael Meacher, the Environment minister, on genetically modified foods was disowned by his own department yesterday.
Mr Meacher, the minister responsible for GM food, said biotechnology was "not necessary" to feed the world and raised fears that genetically modified crops could present a long-term health risk to consumers.
"The human race has existed on this planet for about a quarter of a million years," Mr Meacher said. "We have been feeding ourselves perfectly adequately since overcoming problems of hunger in our early existence. GM is not necessary."
Mr Meacher's gloomy warning contrasts starkly with Tony Blair's avowed enthusiasm for the potential "massive" benefits of the technology.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, headed by Margaret Beckett, described Mr Meacher's attack as "his views" and indicated there was "creative tension" within Government on the issue.
Ministers are due to announce later this year whether they will permit GM crops to be grown commercially after years of tests.
But in an interview in The Ecologist magazine, published today, Mr Meacher makes no secret of his hostility to the idea, leaving his position in Government untenable if large-scale cultivation gets the go-ahead.
"The real problem is whether 10, 20, 30 years down the track, serious and worrying things happen that none of us ever predicted," he said. "It's these sorts of totally unpredicted problems that make me cautious."
Mr Meacher also took a swipe at Lord Sainsbury, the Science minister, who is linked to biotechnology firms.
Pointing out that the Government does not have the money or manpower to conduct its own tests, Mr Meacher doubted whether food companies can be trusted to give objective advice.
"The question is, can we trust the companies and be sure that they are telling us all they know? When asked if the system [of testing] is adequate, it is difficult to give the answer, 'Yes'. The system is trusting and that is worrying."
The Government announced a national debate on GM technology last year to form the basis of a decision on whether to allow commercialisation.
Mr Blair has described biotechnology as the edge of a new scientific discovery, but acknowledged that some part of public opinion regards it as a threat.
"Now we are facing a frontier of this kind," he said. "The science of biotechnology will probably be, to the first half of the 21st century, what the computer was to the second half of the 20th century. Its implications are profound; its benefits, potential and massive."
Downing Street refused to endorse Mr Meacher's comments yesterday. A spokeswoman said: "That's a matter for [the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs]."
Mr Meacher has repeatedly risked the wrath of ministerial colleagues with his outspoken comments. He has admitted that Britain was being pressed by the US to allow commercial planting.
Between the 25-27th of July, Earls Courts’ gloomy interior was doused in shades of bubblegum and parma violets as it played host to Hyper Japan, the venue’s annual celebration of anime, art, Kawaii street fashion and everything that encompasses the term J-culture. Bursting with Japanese pop culture and infused with Asian street food Hyper Japan is an invigorating culture shock that brings cosplayers, creatives and gamers like myself from across the globe.
World 'on the verge of next mass extinction': Humans have caused extinction rates to increase by up to 10,000 times
World's 100 most destructive species named
As Iraq runs dry, a plague of snakes is unleashed
The top 10 weirdest animal mating rituals
Cornwall hotter than California? British sea temperatures hit all-time high
- 1 Sabina Altynbekova, the girl branded 'too good looking' for volleyball, says social media obsession with her is a 'bit much'
- 2 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 3 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- 4 Zayn Malik on Israel-Gaza: One Direction singer bombarded with Twitter death threats after posting #FreePalestine
- 5 'Hello mum, this is going to be hard for you to read ...'
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
- < Previous
- Next >
Unpaid Voluntary Work : Cancer Research UK: We need motivational volunteers to...
£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable...
£200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...
£18000 - £30000 per annum + Generous commission scheme: AER Teachers: Thames T...