GM Nation? Manchester Decides This Week

14th July 2003
news
release

News Release

For immediate release.

Photo Opportunity:Photo call at 6:45pm on Wednesday 16th July at the Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, Manchester before the debate. Chair, speakers and representatives from Manchester Friends of the Earth and Unicorn Grocery will be available at this time.

Manchester Friends of the Earth [1] and Unicorn Grocery [2] invite members of the public to hear, discuss and vote upon the issue of growing Genetic Modified crops (GM) commercially in Britain. At a public meeting at the Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, between 7 and 9pm on Wednesday 16th July a panel will give presentations for and against GM crops followed by a discussion and questions from the floor.

Participants will be able to fill in questionnaires, which will then be sent to the Government as part of the ongoing consultation – ‘GM Nation’ [3]. There will be also be a vote on two motions: whether the potential risks of GM outweigh the potential benefits and whether Manchester should declare itself a GM-free zone.

The panel has now been confirmed as:
· Lance Crooks, Manchester Green Party, Chair
· Jonathan from Corporate Watch, speaking against the commercial growing of GM Crops
· Sue Meyer of Genewatch, talking a neutral stance
· Beth Knowles, speaking in favour of the commercial growing of GM Crops. Beth is not personally in favour of the technology, but the organisers have found it impossible to find an advocate prepared to speak despite approaching many organisations who are pro-GM.

The organisers believe that the Government seems keen to push ahead with growing GM crops commercially, and it is therefore crucial that the people of Manchester have an opportunity to hear the arguments for and against and have their say in the decision. A Consumer Association survey noted that less than one third of the population found GM foodstuffs acceptable [4]. There are many issues to be debated including the potential risks to health, to the environment and to farmers.

ENDS

Notes for Editors

1. Manchester Friends of the Earth is a prominent pressure group, raising awareness and lobbying for policy changes at a local, regional, national and international level. The group consists entirely of volunteers, and its campaigns are funded by membership fees and individual donations. Up-to-date information is available on their website: https://www.manchesterfoe.org.uk. Manchester Friends of the Earth is part of a national network of local groups, affiliated to the national organisation (further information can be found at http://www.foe.co.uk).

2. Unicorn Grocery is a local organic food shop in South Manchester. It opened in 1986 and has been run since then as a worker co-operative owned, run by its own workforce, and is committed to bringing wholesome organic food to its customers. It has a turnover of more than £1 million and is one of the largest and most successful wholefood outlets in the UK. (Website: http://www.unicorn-grocery.co.uk/)

3. The national discussion on GM consists of three components: a public debate (of which this Manchester FoE event is part), a government science review and an economics study. (Website: http://www.gmnation.org.uk/) The deadline for questionnaire returns is 18th July.

4. http://www.which.net/campaigns/food/gm/findings.html