Brussels, 24 Jun 2004
The Spanish Environment Minister, Cristina Narbona, has pledged to seek the advice of independent researchers before deciding whether or not the country should continue its policy of growing genetically modified (GM) crops.
Ms Narbona accused the previous Spanish government of giving the go-ahead to extensive cultivation of GM crops before scientists were able to reach a considered opinion on the issue, instead preferring to give undue weight to research funded by the biotechnology industry itself.
'In recent years Spain has become Europe's granary of GM corn,' AFP reports Ms Narbona as saying. 'This is the result of a decision by the previous government to allow the growing in our country of a crop on which the scientific community has yet to form a conclusive opinion.'
The minister announced that a joint inquiry has been set up by the agriculture and environment ministries in order to consult the widest possible spectrum of scientific advice. She also expressed her view that Spain needs more research capacity in the area of GM crops.
'We want to reinforce independent research in this area, and I underline the word 'independent', because in this country, where there is little scientific investigation, many researchers are privately funded by companies that want the research to have a specific conclusion,' Ms Narbona argued.
'Not only must we carry out more research, but we need more sources of independent research,' she concluded.