Friday, 20 June 2008

'UK Labour Government in disarray over GM crop stance' - Gibson

News release
Immediate release


Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has lambasted calls for GM crops to be grown in Scotland and claims that the Labour Party are in disarray over the issue.

Mr Gibson's words come in the wake of comments from a leading UK Government cabinet Minister that the UK should start growing GM crops.

However Mr Gibson said that the Government in Westminster was contradicting itself over the issue.

He pointed to a report from the Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) (the agricultural equivalent of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change) which concluded that GM crops were not the answer to world hunger. The report also concluded that the best way out of world hunger was by small-scale farming and ecological method.

This report was fully endorsed by the International Development Minister Douglas Alexander.

Earlier this month Mr Gibson lodged a motion in the Parliament supporting the reports findings and welcoming the endorsement from Douglas Alexander. However the motion has not been supported by one Labour MSP.

MR Gibson said..

"Nine days have passed since I lodged my motion congratulating Douglas Alexander for approving the contents of the IAASTD report yet not one Labour MSP seems to think that he did the right thing. The report shows that the variable results of GM yield offers no guarantee it can used as a tool to rid the world of hunger. Indeed the message of family farms and environmental methods has once again challenged Labour to get off the fence. Either they support the findings of the report as Mr Alexander or Gordon Brown's stance in Europe."

Mr Gibson went on to say that if the recent calls for mass production of GM crops in the UK were carried out it would tarnish Scotland's reputation for delivering healthy, clean and tasty produce and not deliver the benefits which the GM lobby claim...

"Pro GM hysteria whipped up by the UK Government has no scientific credibility and pits consumers against agribusiness. The Scottish Government's First National Food Policy sees no place for GM. It would cut across the image Scotland has of its food as the First Minister has said."

"In contrast the UK Labour government is urging Europe to open up the market for more GM maize and animal feed from abroad. This ignores the environmental damage to producer countries and diverts countries like Brazil and Argentina from growing conventional crops in a sustainable fashion. With feed prices soaring Scottish farmers have to ask themselves, can we produce more animal feed here? If we value quality and our customers certainly do, should we jeopardise our healthy food image with GM that the consumers reject?

He also warned that those who are joining in the rush for GM should tread very carefully….

"Our scientists and commentators must not reject the anti GM stance of the Scottish Government and consumers as anti-science. Outrageous claims are being made. For example the principal of the Scottish Agricultural College Bill McKelvey claimed 'it is up to society to decide which is the lesser of two evils; expensive food or GM crops'. These are not the options contained in the IAASTD report."

Rob Gibson also rejected the very notion that GM could produce food security in the world saying it was time for real research and science not knee jerk panicking and scaremongering….

"Since Douglas Alexander has endorsed the report's findings. It is time for a halt to wild claims for GM. Commentators need to dig deeper, indeed they need to review the plight of US farmers who cannot escape from GM crops. Wind blown seed has made GM endemic to many parts of USA. Meanwhile the multinational transgenic corporations cannot be allowed to trash the planet for their profit. And Scottish farmers cannot build food security here on the back of GM feed crops like soya grown abroad."

"The Scottish Government's 1st National Food policy provides an excellent backdrop to scotch the myths of GM and take a fair trade, fair deal approach for producers and consumers alike. Will UK Labour put up GM facts or just continue to scaremonger?"


Note to Editor:

A copy of Rob's motion on the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development report on GM S3M-02125 Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish National Party): GM Crops Do Not Prevent World Hunger— That the Parliament congratulates the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), the agricultural equivalent of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, for concluding that data on a range of genetically modified crops indicate highly variable yields, greater in some places and less in others; notes the reluctance of the IAASTD to rule out GM crops in future, but that it rightly concludes that if the multi-million pound investment by corporations in transgenic research and development had been applied to improving conventional methods of local food production and distribution then the current world food crisis would have been more successfully addressed; applauds the overwhelming conclusion of IAASTD that small-scale farming and ecological methods provide the way forward to avert the current world food crisis, and therefore welcomes the UK Government’s approval of the IAASTD reports without reservation as confirmed in a written Commons statement by Douglas Alexander MP and encourages the Scottish and UK governments to mainstream the thrust of the IAASTD report in agricultural policy development.

Supported by: Jamie Hepburn, Kenneth Gibson, Dr Alasdair Allan, Stuart McMillan, Dave Thompson, Roseanna Cunningham, Bill Kidd, Bashir Ahmad, Alex Neil, Christina McKelvie, Brian Adam, Robin Harper, Gil Paterson
Lodged on Wednesday, June 11, 2008; Current

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