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KEYCODE BAYER #85

14/06/2003, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

BAYER HELPS BRINGING DOWN UK ENVIRONMENT MINISTER

"Meacher going in the middle of the GM debate leaves the British Government without a credible voice on the subject"

Michael Meacher's position as environment minister was at risk last night after he was accused by a leading member of the powerful pro-GM lobby of boycotting the field trials for the controversial plants.

Dr Paul Rylott, a senior executive with the chemical giant Bayer, who heads a coalition of GM seed producers including Dupont and Monsanto (the Agricultural Biotechnology Council ABC), said Mr Meacher had not visited British crop trials in four years.

The GM lobby regard him as an obstacle to the development of such crops in Britain, while Mr Blair has made clear he believes that the Government should not stand in the way of scientific developments. Field trials were launched to study GM crops' possible impact on neighbouring organic farms and bio-diversity. The results will be announced in September, and a national GM debate began last week. (Jun 8 2003)

DR RYLOTT HOLDS NUMEROUS KEY POSITIONS:

Head of BioScience UK, Bayer CropScience;
Deputy Chairman (and Acting Chairman) of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC);
member of the GM Public Debate Steering Board;
member of the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission (AEBC);
representative to the Supply Chain Initiative on Modified Agricultural Crops;
representative to the British Society of Plant Breeders.

FRIENDS OF THE EARTH: BLAIR SACKS MEACHER

Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision to sack Environment Minister Michael Meacher is yet another sign that the Government is failing to take green issues seriously, Friends of the Earth said today.

Mr Meacher had a high reputation among environmental campaigners, and had frequently been seen as a "lone voice" in taking a greener line than the general government view, for example over genetically modified food and crops. (...)

Earlier this week, the Sunday Telegraph suggested that Mr Meacher's job was under threat following pressure from the biotech industry because of his cautious attitude toward GM crops. Earlier this month the Government launched a nationwide GM public debate and is expected to make a decision on whether GM crops should be commercialised towards the end of the year.
Press Release, Jun 13 2003

MEACHER A LOSS TO GM CROP DEBATE

Tony Blair's sacking yesterday of Michael Meacher as Environment Minister removes the Government's safest pair of hands in the debate over genetically modified crops.

Meacher, as amanuensis to John Prescott during his environment and transport superministry, played an important part in the negotiations on the Kyoto protocol, the first agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

He led a charmed life until dented by the debacle over the fridge disposal ban which officials brought to his attention too late to do anything about it.

The environmentalists stood by Mr Meacher yesterday. Patrick Holden, of the Soil Association, said: "Meacher going in the middle of the GM debate leaves the Government without a credible voice on the subject."
Tony Juniper, of Friends of the Earth, said: "No 10 has been trying to marginalise Michael for some time now. But Mr Blair may find that his removal leaves this Government's poor green record apparent for all to see."
By Charles Clover