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Plaid Cymru warns over GMO crop powers move to Westminster

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Cameron’s actions not in the Welsh national interest

Powers over GMO crops (Genetically Modified Organisms) that had previously been subject to international agreement in Europe are being given to Westminster and European governments. Decisions on whether to grow GMO crops will be made on a country-by-country basis in future, and could lead to introduction in the UK warn Plaid Cymru.

The change takes place after European countries were split as to whether to accept a newly developed strain of crop, with 19 countries voting to reject and just five, including the UK, voting to introduce it.

For several years, there has been a defacto moratorium on new GMO approvals across Europe for several years while national governments debated the matter without reaching a conclusion. This compromise will mean that some countries, like Germany, will make an outright ban on GMO crops.

Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans says that it is likely that the UK Government will introduce GM crops in the UK, but that the Welsh Government would oppose them in Wales.

She said that a transfer of powers to Westminster, but not to Wales, ignored the reality of devolution, as agriculture is a Welsh government responsibility.

Jill Evans MEP continued by warning that the UK Government would continue to act against the Welsh national interest in future negotiations, and that the UK Government will argue for powers over Welsh regional funds, such as those which go to West Wales and the Valleys, and the Common Agricultural Policy that assists Welsh famers, to be determined in London instead.

Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans said:

“The defacto ban on GM crops in Europe was a reflection of the public's opposition to GMOs. The UK is in the minority in wanting GM crops, so they have pushed to get the decision taken in London, ignoring Wales' views. It is not democratic. I wrote to the Welsh Natural Resources Minister in February this year, expressing concerns about the UK Government position, and asking what action he had taken to oppose them.

“In Wales we have campaigned strongly against the introduction of GMO crops, with the GM Free Wales campaign attracting mass support a decade ago.

“These powers are now being transferred from Europe to Member State governments, so decisions on GM crops will be made a on a country-by-country basis. In some cases, this means that countries such as Germany will implement an outright ban.

“As it was the UK Government arguing in favour of their use, we can assume that they will push for their introduction. As Wales has already declared itself a GMO-free nation, these powers being transferred to London are bad news for Wales. Welsh agriculture will not be protected, and there will be very real concerns about cross-contamination.

“Agriculture and food are both responsibilities of the Welsh Government. These powers should be transferred to the Welsh Government so that a Welsh decision can be made on whether to grow GMO crops or not.

“The current UK Government is looking at what powers it believes should be held at Westminster. We know that they are already in favour of having control over the EU regional funds from which West Wales and the Valleys benefit and that they want to slash payments under the Common Agricultural Policy that helps 80% of Welsh farmers.

“Plaid Cymru’s concern is that the Westminster government consistently works against the Welsh national interest.

“Wales cannot leave it up to Westminster to decide what is right for our country. That is why we need a seat at the top table of the European Council and an EU Commissioner, as well as our fair share of MEPs in the European Parliament.”

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