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
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
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.)