Scottish GM Free Status Under Threat From New WTO Ruling

09 February 2006
SNP MEP Alyn Smith and Deputy Environment spokesperson Rob Gibson MSP have today expressed their concerns over the future status of GM freeareas in Scotland following a decision by the World Trade Organisation.

Moray, West Lothian and the Western Isles have declared themselves GM Free, with Highland Council adopting a partially GM free stance.

This status could be under threat from last weeks ruling by the WTO that EU restrictions on GM imports were unjustified and should be lifted.

SNP Deputy Environment spokesman Rob Gibson MSP speaking on a visitto the Western Isles said

"We have high quality farming and farm produce, GM would only riskthat.

"The EU must defend the right of these regions to remain GM free.

"At present we can not guarantee that GM crops would be safe, thatthey would not damage our unique environment and the risk of crosspollinationwith non GM, especially our increasing number of organicfarms is too great.

" This ruling could seriously undermine those local areas that haveintroduced their own moratorium. It is for democratically electedpoliticians to make these decisions, not unelected trade bodies.

"What we need is for the Parliament to support a GM Free Scotland,the Welsh Assembly have declared Wales GM Free, why should Scotlandnot follow their example."

Speaking from Strasbourg SNP Europe spokesman Alyn Smith MEP said:

"It is clear the public are very sceptical of GM foods and GMOs andthat there is no great market for them in Europe, including inScotland.

"Western Isles, West Lothian, Moray and Highland have taken clearsteps against having GM crops in their area. The decisions of theseareas must be respected.

"If Countries or local areas wish to declare themselves free of GMthen they should be allowed to do so. The European Commission mustcontinue to stand up for these regions when it goes back to the WTOand defend the EU moratorium vigorously."

Note to editors:

  1. The draft ruling, which was delivered to EU officials last week,will not officially be made public until after the EU responds laterthis year. It follows nearly two years of deliberation since a groupof GM-growing nations including Canada and Argentina and led by theUS, lodged a formal complaint at the WTO, claiming the EU's de factoban on new GM crops was preventing the free trade of GM derivedfoodstuffs and therefore unlawful under WTO rules
  2. Some 70-80 % of European consumers do not want GMO food on theirplates, and opposition to GMO foods and crops in Europe has increasedsince the beginning of the trade dispute in 1999.
  3. There are now over 170 regions and 4,500 counties that have passeddeclarations to remain GMO-free.