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UK Locality Joins Others In Banning Genetically Modified Crops
(Beyond Pesticides, August 6, 2003)
Another locality in England, East Riding of Yorkshire, has voted to prohibit genetically modified (GM) organisms, joining local authorities around the country responding to public concerns about the effects of eating and cultivating GM crops. East Riding, in northwest England, voted to ensure no GM crops are grown on land it controls; to adopt a GM-free policy barring GM ingredients and derivatives from its goods and services; and to approach the Secretary of State for the Environment to request legal protection for the area under EU legislation.

Friends of the Earth, who is campaigning for a GM-free Britain, welcomed the vote, which was passed unopposed. East Riding of Yorkshire follows the lead of Cornwall, Cumbria, Devon, Dorset, Lancashire, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Somerset, South Gloucestershire, the Lake District National Park and the Welsh National Assembly in similar actions. Several district and town councils have also voted to go GM-free.

Campaigners in East Riding raised concerns about the long-term impacts of GM food and crops on our health and environment, and on the threat to local organic and non-GM farmers. A government-sponsored review of GM science published in July admitted to a number of uncertainties and gaps in our knowledge. The Government's review of GM economics concluded there was little short-term market for GM food, while its long-term prospects were equally bleak if the public continued to reject GM food.

"This is great news for people in the East Riding who are rightly concerned about the impact of GM crops and food," said Friends of the Earth campaigns director Mike Childs. "Up and down the country local authorities are sending a clear message to the Government that they do not want GM. It is now up to Tony Blair to listen to what the country is saying and ensure Britain remains GM-free."

"This is a fantastic result. We are very pleased and relieved that this will free us from the threat of GM crops being grown in the area," said East Riding organic grower and anti-GM campaigner Dr Gwen Eggington. "It means that organic and non-GM agriculture in this area will have a chance to flourish."

Following is the full text of the motion, which passed unanimously on July 30, 2003 in East Riding of Yorkshire.

1. That this Council notes the increased public concerns about the effects of the cultivation and consumption of Genetically Modified (GM) products

2. Council commits to:
-- Requesting the Secretary of State for Agriculture to provide legal protection for the East Riding as a GM-free area, in line with Article 19 of 2001/18/EC, and Subject to the Council having the necessary legal powers;
-- Ensuring that no GM crops are grown on land over which it has control; and,
-- Adopting a GM-free policy, which bars all GM ingredients, derivatives, and the produce of GM-fed animals from all goods and services for which this Council is responsible.
-- Acting in an advisory capacity to inform its residents of the issues relating to GM produces.
3. That the Director of Law, Administration, Planning and Property reports back to The Cabinet on this matter.

For information about Friends of the Earth's GM-free Britain campaign, see http://www.gmfreebritain.com or contact Friends of the Earth UK at 020-7490-1555, info@foe.co.uk, http://www.foe.co.uk.

For more information on the issues surrounding genetic engineering, see Beyond Pesticides' program page at http://www.beyondpesticides.org/gmos/index.htm.