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scientists comment on news of GM debate

These follow the Government announcement that there should be a full and informed debate of GM issues, including GM crops.

Professor Ian Crute, Director of Institute of Arable Crops Research, said:

“I welcome the government’s intention to encourage objective economic and scientific consideration of the benefits and concerns associated with cultivation of GM crops. We must move to a reasoned debate and beyond advocacy for narrow vested interests.”

Dr Guy Poppy, Senior Lecturer in Ecology, Southampton University, said:

“I welcome this announcement by Margaret Beckett. The public deserves to receive information about both risks and benefits before they can be expected to make a judgement. At present, the jury is only receiving information from one side of the case and yet are still being expected to pass judgement. All members of the public perform a risk/benefit analysis as part of their everyday lives, but they can only do this when they have sufficient knowledge of the risks and the benefits. Only being informed of unqauntified hazards does not allow them to vote objectively, which could lead to widescale rejection of the important aplications of GM technology.”

Dr Mark Tester, Senior Lecturer at Cambridge University, said:

“It is great that Margaret Beckett is supporting an open and informed debate. Lets hope that all parties genuinely engage in this debate rather than merely paying lip service to it.”

Professor Vivien Moses, Visiting Professor of Biotechnology at King’s College, London, and Chairman of Cropgen, said:

“Cropgen welcomes the statement by the Secretary of State, especially with respect to the proposed scientific assessment. While noting that the economic assessment will cover the costs and benefits of GM crops, it will also be very important to undertake an economic assessment of conventional and organic farming interests. Agricultural biotechnology cannot be considered in isolation to other farming practices.”

Dr Ray Mathias, Spokesman for the John Innes Centre, said:

“We welcome the government’s determination to foster a balanced public debate on the evidence as a way of evaluating the opportunities and addressing the concerns associated with the introduction of this new technology.”

Professor Mike Wilkinson, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Reading, said:

“Obviously it’s fabulous that this debate will go ahead. But it’s very important the the debate is based on clearly presented scientific information, rather than on entrenched, dogmatic opinions.”

Professor Michael Wilson, CEO of Horticulture Research International, said:

“It’s long overdue that a rational knowledge-based analysis relevant to UK and EU risks and benefits of GM be undertaken. There are plenty of existing data out there, some gathered from other countries who have adopted, deployed and consumed GM crops grown commercially on over 400 million acres since 1996. I think the real issue here may be those who are ideologically or economically opposed to GM or modern agriculture may set arbitary criteria for safety or acceptance that are unreasonable or impossible to attain.”

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