Politics - Environment: We don't need GM food, Meacher tells Commons
Wednesday 16 June 1999
"We do not need GM foods at present," he told MPs. "But the fact is this is a technology which has some potential benefits. It mainly has producer benefits at the present time, though it could have some significant consumer benefits in the long run." But he added: "We should not be stampeded by industrial or commercial interests to take a decision in favour of this type of technology until we know and can produce the evidence for everyone to look at that it is wholly safe."
Organic producers have seen demand rocket since anxieties over GM products - particularly soya imported from the US - became widespread. Now European ministers have agreed a standard for organic farming that would allow produce from different countries to have an organic stamp. Mr Meacher said the Soil Association, which regulates UK organic farming, wanted the "buffer zone" between organic farming and test plantings of GM crops should be extended from 200 metres to six miles.
Organic farmers were "quite rightly concerned" that every effort should be made to prevent cross-contamination of their products. "The Government also wishes to see an increase in organic products here, because consumer demand is considerably in excess of domestic supply, with balance of payments problems," he added. The Labour ex-minister Joan Ruddock, who two weeks ago called for a moratorium on GM crops in Britain, asked whether the Government had commissioned research into the effects of GM plants on butterflies, after an American study that suggested they could be harmed by pollen from GM maize.
Mr Meacher said that variety of GM maize was not being grown in Britain, and added: "We are looking at serious scientific results, which I think may have a major effect."
He told MPs the Government was determined to be open with the public on the subject of GM technology.
Wellcome Image Awards: The most striking images from the world of science, including breast cancer cells under chemical attack and a photographer’s own kidney stone
Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: Terrorism explanation 'cannot be ruled out', says CIA
Bob Crow death: 'Admired by his members, feared by employers' - Tributes pour in for RMT union leader and 'working class hero' Bob Crow
Oscar Pistorius murder trial: Athlete repeatedly sick as court hears 'graphic details' of Reeva Steenkamp's post-mortem
How climate change helped Genghis Khan: Scientists believe a sudden period of warmer weather allowed the Mongols to invade with such success
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home
- 1 Pakistan vs Paul Smith: Sandal-wearers bemused by famed British designer's attempts to sell traditional Peshawari chappal-style shoes for the distinctly untraditional sum of £300
- 2 Family forced to flee home after discovering 'terrifying' nest of spiders in bananas
- 3 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 4 Russell Crowe's Noah banned in three Arab countries before worldwide premiere
- 5 Bob Crow death: 'Admired by his members, feared by employers' - Tributes pour in for RMT union leader and 'working class hero' Bob Crow
£20000 - £23000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Our client specialises in creati...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Private Cli...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residential...
£1000 per month: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ban...