The ScotsmanBy David Scott
Thursday, 30th May, 2002
Finnie Rejects GM Freeze
Ross Finnie, the environment and rural development minister, insisted yesterday that genetically modified crop trials were safe and would go ahead on a step-by-step basis.
He rejected a call by the SNP for an immediate moratorium on GM crops, in view of a report from the European Environmental Agency (EEA) describing the trial of genetically modified oilseed rape as high-risk.
Mr Finnie said everyone wanted Scotland to be at the forefront of science, but he stressed that the Scottish Executive would never promote science on a careless basis.
He said European directives required decisions to be made on scientific evidence and he would continue to go to independent bodies like the advisory committee on releases to the environment for advice on whether there was likely to be any serious harm to human health.
He added: That is an entirely reasonable process, and given the way in which the legislative framework is written, I believe that is also a responsible basis on which to proceed. It allows us to progress with science but never ever puts at risk human health or our environment.
The SNP argued during a stormy debate that Scotland should take the same action as Belgium and stop the trials in view of the EEA report.
The report states oilseed rape can be described as a high-risk crop for pollen-mediated gene flow from crop to crop and from crop to wild relatives.
Low frequencies of cross-pollination have been recorded at distances of up to 4km from the source, the report says.
Bruce Crawford, the SNP environment spokesman, said that, because Mr Finnie had repeatedly pledged that he would halt GM trials if credible evidence of a danger was presented to him, he should now impose an immediate moratorium on GM trials.
For the Tories, John Scott called for a fresh and complete review of all scientific evidence. He said this was necessary not just on environmental grounds, but also on public health grounds.
Copyright 2002 The Scotsman All Rights Reserved
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