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Campaigning against genetically modified food and crops

Why won't Prescott answer our GM questions?

On 5 March 1999, Monsanto announced in the Nottingham Evening Post that it was about to plant GM sugar beet near Ruddington.

Nottingham FOE sent a letter on 18 March to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, John Prescott, asking a number of questions. We followed this with two further letters on 3 April and 1 May.

No answer was received until late July, when a letter dated 2 July arrived from DETR. Most of our questions remained unanswered. (Links to these letters are at the bottom of this page.)

It appears that DETR are unable to say whether farmers will be able to sue Monsanto and other biotech companies if their crops are contaminated by GM genes. Or whether Monsanto will be able to sue the farmers who are found with GM genes in their crops, as is happening in North America.

They can't detail any experiments which show that anti-biotic markers in GM crops are safe. They haven't yet said whether they consider it acceptable for GM beet to be grown in the same field as commercial beet.

They also say that it is not necessary to test for prions (deformed proteins) in GM food because prions are "not used" in GM tests. (Prions caused BSE in cattle even though prions are "not used" in animal feed.)

NFOE letter 1

NFOE letter 2

NFOE letter 3

DETR reply

Updated 30 July 1999 [next page]