SIRC – Media Watch 09-04-99

The GM Gravy-Train

The ability of GM food to make the headlines appears relatively undiminished. The European Commission have announced Emergency Response Plans to counter the perceived ecological disaster that would ensue should cross pollination occur between 'natural' and GM crop strains. Their rhetoric utilises such terms as "decontamination" and "isolation", vocabulary one may be forgiven for thinking may more readily be associated with nuclear or chemical leakage.

In the UK, the pub and restaurant chain Bass pledges to ban GM foods from their outlets. No real news here, since they, like the rest of their industry, are required to do so by law as of September 19. Friends of the Earth, this week, call for the cessation of the UK’s first farm scale test of GM crops at Lushill Farm, Swindon, Wilts. on the grounds that AgroEvo – who were by law required to ensure that suitable details were made readily available to the surrounding communities – only publicised details of the tests in one local newspaper, the Gloucester Echo.

According to FOE, this publication is not widely read in the area and, indeed, it is not even available in the local newsagent! In a press release, FOE claim another victory over the biotech industry by forcing the government to question the legality of their attempt to speed up the commercial development of GM seeds. Writing in the Guardian, Michael Schwarz, who defended the two women accused of causing damage to GM crops, suggests that last week’s decision by the DPP to withdraw the charges, may incite environmentalists into taking direct action: "Message from DPP to activists? Commit under £50,000 worth of damage and plead not guilty."