Press release from GM Free Cymru
24 March 2004. Immediate release
GM maize sunk by Welsh Assembly
It was confirmed this evening that Carwyn Jones, the Welsh Assembly's
Environment Minister, has agreed that he will not add Chardon LL maize to
the National Seeds List without the authorization of the Assembly through a
free vote on the issue.
The Minister has a UK veto on the listing of GM seeds, and on this matter he
has given up his delegated powers and agreed to follow the majority wishes
of Assembly members.
This means effectively that Chardon LL will not now be added to the Seeds
Register, and that there is no hope at all that it could be grown anywhere
in the UK before its current Part C consent expires in October 2006.
In today's debate on GM, instigated by the Lib Dems, the Minister was forced
to make his statement on a free vote by a threat from a number of Labour AMs
to abstain or vote for the Lib Dem motion. In the event the motion was
defeated by 26 votes to 29, and the significance of the Minister's pledge
went almost unnoticed in the welter of party-political points scoring.
Significantly, not a single AM spoke in favour of GM generally, or for the
seed listing of Chardon LL maize (1).
Speaking for GM Free Cymru, Dr Brian John said this evening: "This is
fantastic news for Wales and for the rest of the UK. There is not the
slightest chance that when -- if ever -- the listing of Chardon LL comes up
for debate in the Assembly, it will be approved.
"Whatever their party politics may be, Assembly members are remarkably well
informed on GM issues, and there are many problems related to Chardon LL
which are only just coming to light. The science which has brought Chardon
LL this close to commercialization is corrupt, and we hope that Bayer
CropScience will now withdraw the various applications for GM maize and for
Liberty herbicide which are still on the table."
GM Free Cymru, which has lobbied hard for this decision along with many
other organizations across the UK, feels that the thousands of messages that
have poured in to Assembly members over the past week have not only
reflected public opposition to GM technology but have sent a corporate
raspberry in the direction of Margaret Beckett. On the 9th March she
famously flouted the wishes of the British people and the advice of the
Environmental Audit Committee by announcing that Chardon LL would be
In concluding the GM Free Cymru statement, Dr John said: "We applaud what
Carwyn Jones has done here. He is a very brave politician. It is not often
that a Minister passes a small part of his delegated responsibilities back
to an elected chamber, but that is what he has done. This is a triumph for
democracy, and if the Westminster government now tries to by-pass or
over-ride this decision by the Assembly Cabinet, it will have a massive
political crisis on its hands."
Contact: Brian John tel 01239-820470
 Assembly motions debated today:
(a) The text of the Liberal Democrat motion lost by 26 votes to 29:
NDM1886 Kirsty Williams (Brecon and Radnorshire)
To propose that the National Assembly:
1. Directs the Labour Assembly Government to reiterate its policy of
applying the precautionary principle and adopting the most legally
restrictive policy possible in relation to GM crops;
2. Welcomes and endorses the conclusion of the UK Parliament’s Environmental
Audit Committee that it would be irresponsible for the UK government to
allow the commercial planting of GM crops;
3. Welcomes the investment in organic and traditional agriculture in Wales
but believes that this investment would be jeopardised by the commercial
growing of GM crops in the UK;
4. Deplores the announcement by the UK Government of its intention to
approve the growing of the GM Maize Chardon LL and directs the Labour
Assembly Government to ensure that Chardon LL is not added to the UK seed
[b] The text of the Labour amendment approved by 29 votes to 26:
1. Karen Sinclair (Clwyd South) Labour
Delete all after National Assembly and replace with:
1. Supports the Welsh Assembly Government policy of applying the
precautionary principle and adopting the most restrictive policy possible
within current UK and EU legislation in relation to the cultivation of GM
2. Believes that robust coexistence measures should be in place prior to any
listing of GM crops.
(2) GM Policy Statenment to the House of Commons by Secretary of State
Margaret Beckett, 9th March 2004.
Brian John - GM Free Cymru