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20th February 2004


Christian environmentalists have added their voice to criticism of Government plans to approve the commercial exploitation of GM crops.

Speaking in advance of a major conference on faith and the environment, Chairman of Christian Ecology Link Tim Cooper, a university lecturer in food and nutrition, today accused the Government of "a serious breach in the moral fortitude that people should expect of government."

In response to revelations from Government committee papers leaked to BBC's Newsnight programme on Wednesday Dr Cooper said:

"Evidence suggests that Government intends to use deceptive arguments in trying to win over the public. But the possibility that GM technology may be of future value to poor countries cannot justifiably be used in a debate on growing GM maize in Britain. Nor should the Government pretend that recent trials prove that GM technology is safe while fully aware that these addressed biodiversity but did not consider equally important concerns relating to gene flow and soil condition."

"The church must demand greater honesty and integrity from the Government in its so-called 'big conversation' with the British public. When making its announcement on GM technology Government ministers must not distort the truth."

The Government, he concluded, was "hearing but not listening" to public opinion during last year's 'GM Nation' debate, which exposed overwhelming public opposition to GM technology.

(1) An ecumenical conference Faith and the Environmental Imperative takes place on Saturday 21 Feb in Hereford and will be addressed by the Bishop of Hereford, Rt Revd John Oliver, Abbot Paul Stonham and Sir John Houghton, with a closing presentation by Tim Cooper.
(2) The Evangelical Alliance Policy Commission, to which Dr Cooper acted as adviser, concluded in its report Modifiying Creation that "the issues raised by genetic modification involve spiritual and ethical, as well as technological, considerations."


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