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Strict GM laws to be proposed in 2004

(Monday, Jan. 5, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- farminglife.com(UK) , 01/03/04: MP Gregory Barker has announced he will introduce Friends of the Earth's ''GM Contamination and Liability Bill'' to Parliament.

Speaking from a local organic farm in his constituency of Bexhill and Battle, Mr Barker emphasised the need to preserve consumer choice through strict laws to regulate any GM crops.

The Bill calls for a strict approach to any future planting of GM crops - including those planted for trial purposes.

It will stipulate minimum separation distances between GM and organic/conventional crops; clarify liability issues if the unfortunate situation of cross-contamination occurs; and ensure the regulation of GM is simple and that all overseeing bodies self-funded.

Mr Barker was given the opportunity to introduce a new law into Parliament after he was drawn in the Private Members' Ballot in December.

The GM Contamination and Liability Bill was drafted by Friends of the Earth in association with the Five Year Freeze, and is supported by many other national organisations, including the Soil Association and the Food Commission.

Mr Barker said: "Whether you're pro or anti GM, everyone must agree that GM plantings cannot continue without protecting the rights of farmers to grow organic or conventional crops.

"I look forward to ensuring the preservation of consumer choice, by introducing a Bill that will provide strict legislation on any GM plantings in this country."

Martyn Williams, Friends of the Earth Senior Parliamentary Campaigner said: "We are thrilled Mr Barker has decided to introduce the GM Contamination and Liability Bill.

"European law means member states must determine their own contamination and liability laws. However, the Government has not announced any plans to fulfil this important responsibility - indeed, they have never instigated a parliamentary debate on GM.

"The GM Contamination and Liability Bill will ensure that GM Crops - including trials - will never be planted in the UK again without proper regulations.'

Clare Devereux, Five Year Freeze director, stated: "Despite all the evidence that emerged over the summer in favour of a continued moratorium on GM, it is still possible that the Government will allow commercialisation of some crops.

"If they do, then strict laws must be in place before any more crops are planted.

"The Government must protect consumer choice, prevent damage to the environment and ensure that producers of GM products are held responsible for any harm.

"We are delighted that Gregory will be representing the majority of the public who want a cautious approach to GM by taking up this issue in Parliament."

Source: http://www.farminglife.com/flnews/page.cfm?objectid=13774913&method=full&sit eid=51658