Science in Society Archive

"CLASH of the TITANS - Two Leading Scientists Come to Coventry for Last Chance GM Debate"

Tuesday 15th July - 7.00pm
Council Chamber, Council House, Earl Street Coventry

Two leading scientists in genetic modification will pay a one off visit to Coventry next Tuesday. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho from the Institute of Science in Society will speak against commercialisation of GM and Professor Phil Mullineaux of the John Innes Institute will present the case in favour. Local people will also be given an opportunity to have their say on the GM question. The event is part of a national debate on this issue - 'GM Nation' and comes just days before the deadline for contributions to the Government consultation [1]. Later this year the Government will decide whether or not to give the green light for GM organisms to be grown on a large scale in the UK. This decision will have far-reaching implications for agriculture, the food we eat, consumer choice, the environment and world trade.

Coventry and Warwickshire has become a hotbed of controversy on the GM issue as it is home to key organisations such as the pro GM Horticulture Research International at Wellesbourne and the NAC on the one hand and on the other, Ryton Organic Gardens, the largest organic research project in Europe plus a number of beekeepers and organic growers.

In 2001 a proposed trial of GM oilseed rape near Ryton Organic Gardens prompted a passionate local campaign before being withdrawn by the company responsible. In May this year Warwickshire County Council declared itself officially GM Free.

The pro-GM lobby argues GM crops will feed the starving, benefit the world economy and make agriculture more competitive. Anti GM environmentalists and consumer groups such as the Women's Institute argue that GM may lead to the privatisation of the food chain plus damage to the environment and human health and make farmers more dependent on private corporations. It is hoped that this high profile debate in Coventry Council Chamber will enable local people to make up their own minds.

John Verdult of Coventry Friends of the Earth said:

"This debate is the public's last chance to have their voices heard on this issue, but it is taking place against a background of secrecy and misinformation. Many people are unaware of its existence. Hopefully this event will enable people to make an informed contribution to the process."

The meeting is free and open to the public who will have the opportunity to contribute and ask questions. It will begin at 7.00pm in the Council Chamber, The Council House, Earl Street, Coventry. For more information please call John Verdult on 024 7622 5395.

Editor's Notes

[1] Views expressed at the debate on Tuesday will be forwarded to the agency which is collating the feedback from the public nationwide on this issue. For more information on the debate see www.gmnation.org

[2] For more information on the GM issue see www.fiveyearfreeze.org and www.genewatch.org

[3] Speakers' Contact details

Press Contacts:

Jenny Sansom: 024 7667 6948 or 07973 510 652

Jane Green: 024 7671 4212

John Verdult: 024 7622 5395

Article first published 11/07/03



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