Consumer affairs: Minister in GM foods row

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LORD SAINSBURY, the Trade and Industry Minister, came under renewed pressure from the Tories yesterday to clarify potential conflicts of interest between his business interests and government policy on genetically modified foods.

John Redwood, the Conservative spokesman on trade and industry, insisted last night that the supermarket millionaire should not be allowed to make any decisions on GM foods.

In a letter to Stephen Byers, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, he said that the Government needed to "take a cool hard look" at the scientific evidence to decide which of the products was safe for sale.

Lord Sainsbury's continuing interest as a shareholder in the Sainsbury supermarket chain gave the impression that he had made up his mind about the safety of GM foods, Mr Redwood claimed.

"I am very worried that leaving Lord Sainsbury in charge of the DTI end is bad for the food industry and bad for customers," he wrote.

"Will you now take the necessary action to ensure that a minister who has not made up his mind on these matters is put in charge of these issues at the DTI?"

Mr Redwood also asked Mr Byers to check whether Lord Sainsbury had maintained an interest in the Gatsby Trust, a charitable foundation that allegedly funds the promotion of GM products.