Alternative GM debate
LONDON (Reuters) - The debate on
gene-spliced crops is stepping up a
gear with two of Britain`s largest
retailers joining forces with the
Consumers` Association and Greenpeace to
launch their own public forum
to thrash out the issues.
government`s separate eight-week national dialogue on genetically
organisms draws to a close on Friday amid widespread criticism
of the way it
Anglo-Dutch food group Unilever, food retailer
Greenpeace, and the Consumers` Association said they have
set up an
"independent GM citizens` jury" in a bid to aid government thinking
it decides whether to allow GM crops to be grown commercially
The government`s decision is expected later this
Greenpeace`s chief policy advisor Charlie Kronick said the
views would be more fairly represented by the eight-week-long
than at the government`s hearings.
"The public have been
subjected to a barrage of propaganda courtesy of
GM advocates as well as
sceptics," Kronick said.
"This is a chance for the government to hear the
real concerns of real
people," he added.
The alliance said the jury
would have two groups of 30 members each, all
of whom were handpicked from a
wide mix of social backgrounds, ages,
ethnic groups and genders.
REPORT IN SEPTEMBER
Meeting twice a week, jurors will expect to hear
"witnesses" - to
include members from the farming, science and retail
present their views on the technology.
Jurors will also
have an opportunity to call in further witnesses at the
end of the period if
needed, Consumers Association spokeswoman Samantha
said a special monitoring panel had been appointed, which included
the biotechnology industry, to ensure that the results from
the GM jury are
Once finished, the jurors will produce a report at the end of
outlining its conclusions and overall verdict, which will be
presented to food, farming and environment ministers to
The government-backed debate that got underway on 3 July finally
end on Friday despite calls by lobby groups from all sides for
extension, possibly until October.
The dialogue included the
publication of a key report on the costs and
benefits associated with GM food
and a series of public debates across
A key report on the
science associated with GM crops and food is
expected to be published on