Cherie's against GM too, says the Prince

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CHERIE BLAIR is worried about the safety of genetically modified food, according to the Prince of Wales.

Prince Charles has told friends that the Prime Minister's wife privately shares his concerns about the health and environmental implications of GM crops. This contrasts starkly with Tony Blair's insistence that the food is safe and he would be happy for his own family to eat it.

According to Royal advisers, the Prince discussed the issue with Mrs Blair when she came to Highgrove with her husband for lunch last September. The Prince refuses to eat or serve GM food and guests are always given organic vegetables from the estate.

He claims Mrs Blair is also privately nervous about genetically modified food and would like to see more research done. Friends say he is delighted to have found an ally in Downing Street.

The revelation of disagreement within Number 10 over such a contentious issue will be embarrassing for the Prime Minister. Mr Blair is adamant that genetically modified food is safe and has blamed "media hysteria" for the growing public concern about the crops. He recently clashed in private with the Prince about GM food at a meeting in St James's Palace.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "We never talk about the Prime Minister's discussions with the Royal Family and neither would we about any Mrs Blair had had." However, he stressed, "The Blair household is not a GM- free zone."

The Prince has already put the Government in an awkward position by publicly challenging its claim that GM food is safe. Last Sunday, we revealed that he was seeking a meeting with Dr Arpad Pusztai, the scientist whose experiments first ignited the debate over GM.

Following this, in an article last week Prince Charles raised serious concerns about the lack of independent scientific research. His intervention was criticised as a breach of the convention that members of the Royal Family do not get involved in politics.