Friends of the Earth Press Release -


22 Jan 2003

Devon County Council has voted to take steps to become GM-free and has called on the Government to ban GM crops. The decision has been warmly welcomed by Friends of the Earth which launched its GM-free Britain Campaign [1] in October last year.

Yesterday (Tuesday) Devon County Council’s Executive Committee unanimously agreed to:

  • call on the Government to ban the commercial implementation of GM technology until scientific evidence has shown there are no harmful effects on humans, animals or the environment;

  • raise the issue with the South West Assembly with the objective of establishing a common South West position on the issue;

  • endorse the existing policy of the Council’s catering service not to supply GM food to council establishments (such as schools and residential homes);

  • advise council tenants of its opposition to GM crops.

Under a new European law [2], the Government can designate GM crop-free areas. Devon is the second largest maize growing county.

Friends of the Earth’s GM campaigner Pete Riley said:
“This is fantastic news. Congratulations to Devon County Council for sticking up for the public who have made it perfectly clear that they don’t want GM food and crops. We hope that more local authorities will follow their lead. Devon County Council should now ask the Government to ensure that GM crops are not grown anywhere in the county in future – something it is able to do under a new European law.”

Friends of the Earth launched its GM-free Britain campaign in October 2002 to persuade local authorities to take steps to become GM-free areas. Later this year the Government is expected to decide whether or not to allow GM crops to be commercially grown across the UK. If it does Friends of the Earth warns that it would lead to widespread GM contamination of our food, crops and environment, and would remove people’s right to choose food free from GM content. GM food and crops are deeply unpopular. An NOP survey published in October showed that 57 per cent do not want GM crops to be commercially grown across the UK.

Friends of the Earth’s GM campaigner Pete Riley said:
The Government will soon decide whether to allow GM crops to be commercially grown in the UK. If it allows this to happen it will lead to the widespread GM contamination of crops, food and the environment. People must make it clear that they don’t want this to happen. And they can do this by urging their local authority to go GM-free. It really is now or never.”


1. For more information on Friends of the Earth’s GM-Free Britain Campaign see:
The press release launching the campaign can be found at:

2. Article 19 of EU GMO Directive (2001/18) which came into force in October 2002.



Contact details:

Friends of the Earth
26-28 Underwood St.
N1  7JQ

Tel: 020 7490 1555
Fax: 020 7490 0881