EXCERPT 1: YESTERDAY'S announcement changes little, and will do nothing to abate public hostility or slow the flow of damning evidence. It does not even ensure that a single GM crop will be grown in Britain. It is little more than spin designed to show that Tony Blair is never wrong and to appease the ferociously pro-GM President Bush. But it does present a danger by allowing the GM industry to tell the world, however falsely, that European resistance to the technology is cracking. (item 2)
EXCERPT 2: Tony Blair's Government has embarked on an orchestrated PR strategy designed to break down public opposition to GM... Yesterday, on the day Mrs Beckett backed GM, the British Medical Association announced a remarkable U-turn on the issue and effectively abandoned its opposition. The BMA's decision was driven by Professor Sir David Carter, who it emerged is a supporter of a pro-GM lobbying group. (item 1)
1.Frankenstein food? You'll be made to like it
2.Spin, lies and flawed science - Geoffrey Lean
3.Comment: This reckless abuse of power
1.Frankenstein food? You'll be made to like it
Labour ignores the opposition of shoppers and scientists to back GM
By Sean Poulter
Consumer Affairs Correspondent
Daily Mail March 10, 2004
LABOUR ignored overwhelming public anger and scientific evidence yesterday to surrender Britain's status as a GM-free nation. Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett told the Commons that the Government was approving the Commercial planting of GM maize for animal feed.
Critics warned that the decision to back the gene-warping technology would have devastating consequences for the countryside and health.
Milk and meat from farm animals fed on GM crops grown in Britain will now go on sale in shops. The GM maize -Chardon LL - has been created by the chemical giant Bayer to be fed to cattle.
A gaping loophole in labelling rules mean that families will have no way of knowing whether the milk and meat in high street stores comes from animals given the GM feed.
Consumer groups and green carnpaigners accused the Blair regime of showing 'utter contempt' for public concern.
A senior government adviser made clear that the decision was premature because important safeguards to prevent GM pollen contamination of other farms are not in place.
Tony Blair's Government has embarked on an orchestrated PR strategy designed to break down public opposition to GM. Leaked documents recently hinted at a plan to use scientists from various backgrounds to talk positively about GM.
Yesterday, on the day Mrs Beckett backed GM, the British Medical Association announced a remarkable U-turn on the issue and effectively abandoned its opposition.
The BMA's decision was driven by Professor Sir David Carter, who it emerged is a supporter of a pro-GM lobbying group.
Britain's decision to back the commercial growing of a GM crop will have huge ramifications around the world. It will be welcomed by President Bush's administration and American biotech companies which have heaped huge pressure on Britain to back GM.
It will also be good news for Science Minister Lord Sainsbury, who stands to see his personal fortune multiply if GM farming is launched around the world. The peer, Labour's biggest backer with donations of GBP10 million-plus a year, is a long-term supporter of GM farming and has poured millions of pounds of his own into research.
Greenpeace vowed to turn the issue into a 'nightmare' for Mr Blair at the next General Election. A spokesman said: 'There are thousands of people ready to fight him on this. The end result could be chaos in the countryside during an election year.' Former Environment Minister Michael Meacher, who has become a leading GM critic, said: 'This is the wrong decision. It is driven by the commercial interests of the big biotech companies and, no doubt, pressure from the: White House.'
Sue Davies, the principal policy adviser at the Consumers' Association, said: 'The Government's decision shows utter contempt for consumer opinion.
GM maize offers no obvious benefits. Consumers don't want it, the food industry doesn't want it, yet bizarrely the Government is determined that it will be grown and used in animal feed from next year.'
Foods which are made from GM ingredients have to be labelled under new EU laws. However, this does not extend to meat and milk from livestock fed on GM crops.
Many UK farms are understood to be already giving imported GM feed to their animals - however there is no way for consumers to find out which ones are involved.
The Government appointed Professor Malcolm Grant to consult the nation on attitudes to GM food and farming. There was a majority of nine to one against the technology. Yesterday, Professor Grant made clear that the Government's approval of the GM maize was flawed.
He pointed out that there is no regime in place to pay compensation to organic and other farmers whose crops are contaminated.
Mrs Beckett said there was 'no scientific case for a blanket approval for all uses of GM . . . and no scientific case for a blanket ban on the use of GM'.
Spin, lies and flawed science
Commentary by Geoffrey Lean
Daily Mail Mar 10, 2004
SO Tony Blair has at last got his way. In the teeth of overwhelming public opposition mounting scientific evidence and a shelf-full of sceptical official reports, the Government has finally given a tentative go-ahead to growing GM crops commercially in Britain.
The Prime Minister's spinners and the GM industry's cheerleaders will claim that the debate is over and that those like the Daily Mail, who have campaigned against them should accept defeat.
The way is now clear they will say, for Mr Blair to complete his declared mission to make this country the 'European hub' for biotechnology.
Don't believe it. Yesterday's announcement - scandalously rushed out before Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett departs on nearly two months of travels - is an attempt to shore up a crumbling position rather than a definitive last word.
The battle is far from over, and Mr Blair and his ministers look like continuing to be on the losing side. It is still far from clear that GM crops will ever be cultivated here commercially in any meaningful sense of the word.
For a start, the Government and industry have had to abandon two of the three GM crops that they planned to spread across Britain.
GM beet and oilseed rape failed trials to assess the impact on surrounding wildlife, and yesterday Mrs Beckett had to confirm not just that they would be banned at home, but that the Government would oppose their commercial cultivation anywhere in the EU.
Only a GM maize called Chardon LL - originally licensed for eight years by the EU in 1996 - survives. And the prospects even for this are far from rosy.
Yesterday's announcement was held up for weeks while the Scottish and Welsh devolved governments - who by law have to agree to the GM maize being cultivated - refused to toe Mr Blair's line.
Even now Mrs Beckett has been unable to give specific permission for planting the crop, and has to confine herself just to supporting it in principle.
Instead she has effectively announced another delay while a public consultation is carried out into how to minimise genes spreading from the GM maize to organic and conventional crops.
This will prevent any of the maize being grown this year. And it is looking increasingly likely that the consultation exercise will be spun out to prevent any planting next year either in order to avoid a row in the likely runup to a General Election.
By the year after that, 2006, the EU licence for the maize will have run out and the industry will have to demonstrate its desirability all over again.
The GM industry can see the writing on the wall, even if it still eludes Mr Blair's tunnel vision.
Last October, Monsanto (the world's largest GM seed company), announced it was closing its cereal seed business in Britain and Europe. And Bayer CropScience, which owns the Chardon LL maize, has just made the national heads of its GM programmes throughout Europe redundant.
Contrast this with the prospects for the GM industry six years ago when the Mail and other critics began their campaigns. Then, Monsanto and other biotech firms were riding high, darlings of the stockmarkets, dismissive of opposition.
The Prime Minister, then as now, enthusiastically promoted the technology, letting it be known that he was happy to give his children GM food.
However, the opposition grew rapidly. In 1998, 60 per cent of Britons said they would not eat GM foods, now it’s 84 per cent.
Supermarkets scrambled to take them off their shelves: none will now sell them. Food manufacturers have gone GM-free while demand for organic produce continues to boom.
It is not surprising. Despite Mrs Beckett's claim that her announcement was 'precautionary' and 'evidence-based', the scientific case against the technology continues to grow.
YESTERDAY'S announcement changes little, and will do nothing to abate public hostility or slow the flow of damning evidence. It does not even ensure that a single GM crop will be grown in Britain.
It is little more than spin designed to show that Tony Blair is never wrong and to appease the ferociously pro-GM President Bush. But it does present a danger by allowing the GM industry to tell the world, however falsely, that European resistance to the technology is cracking.
As so often, Mr Blair is giving a false impression. But he will not fool people at home. The announcement will increase opposition, not just to GM but to his increasingly authoritarian and unrepresentative style of government.
3. Comment: This reckless abuse of power
Daily Mail Mar 10, 2004
It speaks volumes for the arrogance of power that politicians who hold only a brief tenure of office can - against the almost universal wishes of the electorate and the sincerely held views of the Second Chamber - blunder so recklessly into decisions that threaten to blight this country for generations.
Is there one jot of democratic legitimacy in New Labour's determination to foist GM crops on the public?
Is there an ounce of constitutional propriety in Government plans to tear up 1,400 years of history, abolish the post of Lord Chancellor and neuter the Lords?
The Prime Minister who was once obsessed by focus groups has become the man who doesn't listen, doesn't care and seems in the grip of a Messianic certainty that only he is right.
Take the announcement that commercial planting of GM matze can go ahead - even though the field tests that supposedly gave this crop the green light have been largely invalidated, because they involved a weedkiller since banned by the EU.
The mystery is why this Government is rushing so blindly ahead. After all, it launched a national consultation, only to find that the great majority of Britons were implacably opposed to GM. And there is clearly no need for these crops, when Mr Blair's own strategy unit admits they offer little economic advantage.
That isn't all. Scientists have serious misgivings. Norwegian research suggests GM maize can lead to respiratory problems and skin rashes.
And organic farmers face ruin, because their fields will be contaminated by GM pollen. So much for hopes that British agriculture can find prosperity in producing pure, high quality foods.
Yet Mr Blair brushes aside all objections. He seems so in thrall to President Bush and America's GM conglomerates that British public opinion no longer signifies.