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Parliament: Modified Food - Sainsbury `tainted' by GM interests

THE TORIES stepped up pressure on Lord Sainsbury of Turville to resign amid the dispute over genetically modified products, accusing him of being "tainted by conflicts of interest".

Christopher Chope, the party's trade and industry spokesman, launched his attack during question time yesterday after the Local Government Association decided to take GM foods off the menu in schools, old people's homes and town halls. Mr Chope said the decision showed it was "unwilling to put trust in the existing science minister, whether a blind trust, or any other sort of trust".

But John Battle, Trade and Industry minister, said Tories were trying to "impugn the integrity" of Lord Sainsbury. "When a team is losing badly the last line of defence if you cannot skilfully get the ball is to go for the man - and that seems exactly what the Opposition is doing. The Government's top priority has always been and will continue to be that GM crops and food do not threaten environmental health or public safety and we will proceed with care and caution on the basis of the best available scientific advice. Scare-mongering and rumouring as the Tories have done in recent weeks is most unhelpful."