Labour's GM spin team is reassigned to Dome

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The Prime Minister's rebuttal unit on genetically modified food, created to combat damaging GM stories, has been secretly disbanded and reassigned to rescuing the Government's reputation on the Dome.

The Prime Minister's rebuttal unit on genetically modified food, created to combat damaging GM stories, has been secretly disbanded and reassigned to rescuing the Government's reputation on the Dome.

But MPs said that the Government was merely "lurching from one embarrassing story to another".

Tony Juniper, campaign director of Friends of the Earth, said: "This unit was the Government's frontline GM spin team set up to head off consumer opposition. The decision to close it shows that the Government no longer sees the need for a propaganda war in support of the GM food industry."

A senior spin-doctor, Peter Wilkinson, was moved from Downing Street two years ago to head the unit at the height of the consumer outcry over the sale of GM foods in shops and biotechnology companies' plans to plant GM oil seed rape and other modified crops.

Yesterday Mr Wilkinson said inquiries on GM had been moved back to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. "I am doing Dome stuff now," he said.

A catalogue of crises have hit the Dome, starting on the opening night when influential guests, including newspaper editors, were left stranded on a London Underground platform.

Since then the Government has been forced to make millions of pounds of emergency grants, using lottery money, to keep its flagship project afloat until the end of the year.

Earlier this month, Nomura, which had won the bidding process to buy the Dome, pulled out of the sale over questions about its finances. But MPs said that even appointing their top men to put the Government's case for the Dome would not rescue the project.

"You can't breathe life into a dead body," said Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on the Dome. "The Government lost the argument over GM crops. Now it's a bit late in the day for the Dome."

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