ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

29 October 2002


In response to a petition from the Munlochy GM Vigil the Health Committee of the Scottish Parliament is launching an enquiry into the health effects of GM. This is a huge opportunity to highlight many of the issues around GM, and to start political action on them - see item 2. ** Submit your concerns to ** - CLOSING DATE 18TH NOVEMBER

Meanwhile, good to see some sense in Monsanto's home town rag - item 1.


'We simply do not have enough reliable scientific evidence on their safety to be able to make a valid decision as to whether there are potential health effects or not.'' - Charles Saunders, chairman of the British Medical Association's public health committee

for many more quotes on the health risks of GMOs:



October 26, 2002
St. Louis Post-Dispatch [via Agnet]

David Kennell of University City writes that the Oregon ballot initiative to require labeling of genetically modified foods (GMOs) was criticized in a Sept. 26 editorial, "The illogic of food." The editorial restated the standard agrichemical industry explanation for the (illogical) opposition to GMOs: "Mostly, it's about emotion."

Not so. Opposition is based on basic science, on potential health hazards, on the threat to the world's food supply and, finally, to human freedom.

Any threat to the biodiversity of our agricultural plants is a threat to the world's food supply. For many millennia, this diversity has been nurtured by farmers' selection of seeds from the fittest plants in their environments for the next year's plantings. The forced purchase of commercial GMO seeds and complementing pesticide each year negates this process.

Even the farmers' freedom to avoid GMO plantings is now in question, with pollen from a neighbor's GMO plants contaminating their fields.

The editorial repeats the industry claim: "There is simply no scientific evidence that foods containing genetically modified ingredients cause health problems." This statement is not scientific. How do you know the number of illnesses or even deaths that could have resulted from any of the hundreds of mutations introduced into our food supply by introductions of foreign genes? It is a valid argument, in itself, for labeling GMOs, which would be the only way to test this baseless claim.

Science deals with positive evidence from experimental observations, not on speculation based on "no evidence." Until the massive epidemiological studies 50 years ago, there was "no evidence" that cigarette smoking caused health problems.

People have a right to know what is in their food and, if they wish, to reject GMO foods for any number of reasons - from scientific to religious, from their possible threat to our health or, perhaps most significant, as a threat to the long-term survival of life on this planet.


2. Scottish Parliament Health Committee is looking for written evidence on GM via Munlochy Vigil


*** Please cirulate as widely as possible ***

In response to the petition from the Munlochy GM Vigil the Health Committee is launching an enquiry into the health effects of GM. This will be based around crops and especially oilseed rape. However, as can be seen from the questions presented below, and with possible commercialisation on the horizon, not only can other crops be considered, but the whole regulatory/scientific framework around all of GM can be questioned.

The Health Committee is genuinely concerned and this is a huge opportunity to highlight many of the issues around GM, and to start political action on them.

Please do respond - CLOSING DATE 18TH NOVEMBER.
Thank you



Scottish Parliament Committee News Release
Tuesday 8 October 2002
The Scottish Parliament's Health and Community Care Committee has agreed to carry out an inquiry into the health impact of GM crops and has issued a call for written evidence. The inquiry will consider whether the Scottish Executive's decision to approve the testing of genetically modified crops at a number of specified sites in Scotland will have negative consequences on public health.

Convener of the Committee, Margaret Smith, said:

"GM crops is a highly emotive and topical subject for our inquiry. We would welcome the views of people affected by the crop trials. Given the Committee's remit, our interest is specifically with regard to the potential negative public health impact, rather than that of a potential risk to the environment."

The Committee is interested in receiving written evidence from interested parties addressing the following four questions:

1) Should the Executive prevent GM crops trials from continuing on the grounds that it is against the precautionary principle to allow them to continue? (See background notes below for further information.)

2) Is the risk assessment procedure for GM crops currently in place sufficiently robust from a public health perspective?

3) Are the guidelines to prevent conventional crops being cross-contaminated by GM crops adequate?

4) Should it be incumbent on the Scottish Executive to monitor the health of people living around GM farm scale evaluation sites?

Responses will be treated as a public document, unless those submitting make it clear when sending in, that they do not want it to be published or circulated in public. Should a submission be treated on a confidential basis, this should be indicated clearly in the submission. All responses will be circulated to the Committee.

Evidence, which should be of no more than 4 A4 sheets in length should be submitted preferably by email to

or to

The Clerk to the Health and Community Care Committee
Committee Chambers
The Scottish Parliament
EH99 1SP

The closing date for written evidence is Monday 18 November 2002


GM crop trials have been authorised by the Scottish Executive to take place at:
* Munlochy, Ross and Cromarty; Daviot, Udny, Tilliecorthy and Rothienorman, Aberdeenshire;
* Newport-on-Tay, Fife;
* Invergowrie, Perth and Kinross;
* Bilston and Woodhouselea, Midlothian.

The Committee took its decision to proceed with an inquiry after considering a paper from Nicola Sturgeon MSP at its 11 September 2002 meeting. (The paper represents the views of Nicola Sturgeon and not necessarily of the whole Committee.)

The Committee's inquiry is likely to proceed in November 2002, when spoken evidence will be taken in public from a number of interested parties.

The Transport and the Environment Committee reported to Parliament on the environmental implications of GM crop trials in Scotland in its 1st report 2001.

The precautionary principle (or approach) as set out in the 1992 UN Rio Declaration on Environment and Development states 'Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.' Given the Committee's remit, our interest is in the risk of a negative public health impact rather than of a more general risk of damage to the environment.

For further information, the media contact is:

Sally Coyne: 0131 348 6269
Out of hours: 07669 717177

For specific committee information contact:
Jennifer Smart, Clerk to the Committee: Tel 0131 348 5210

For public information enquiries, please contact: 0131 34 85000

For general enquiries, please contact 0845 278 1999 (local call rate)

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