I get these regular email briefings from Cowley Street on various topical issues. In general, I tend to ignore them, partly because as a non-parliamentary candidate they don’t apply to me, but perhaps more in case they plunge me into a gloom because the party line differs from my own view.
But curiosity led me to open the suggested response to enquiries on GM-food, drafted by Roger Williams MP, who is apparently our agriculture spokesman. I hoped our line might have softened since the days when Donnachadh McCarthy used to propose a seemingly annual anti-GM motion at party conference.
My hopes have been raised by the knowledge that some voices – most notably Evan Harris and Dick Taverne – have been raised in favour of a more balanced policy. But clearly there is a way still to go as the Roger Williams' line appears implacable in its hostility.
Perhaps most depressing is the statement that: ‘Liberal Democrats oppose commercial growing of Genetically Modified crops until it is known that they are environmentally safe.’ This amounts to a ruling out of GM food for ever and all time. For it will never be possible to prove that they are environmentally safe. All that can be proved is that there is no evidence of it causing harm. The problem with the anti-GM lobby is that their position has become a matter of faith such that there is no evidence at all that could convince them of the merits of GM-technology. Clearly there is some way to go before the party sees sense on this.