The Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR) is calling on its members to adopt a firm stance against genetically modified crops by writing to their MPs in support of proposed legislation. The Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) Bill, adopted by Conservative MP Gregory Barker after a ballot in December, sets out clear guidelines to protect organic and conventional crops from contamination by GM crops. CIIR members have until 26 March to write to their MP, when the bill will have its second reading and will be debated for the first time. Parliament will then decide whether to give it support and allow it to progress to the next phase, the committee stage, where it gets a full and proper debate. The bill sets out tough rules against GM crops. It calls for: appropriate public notification of the areas where GM crops are to be planted; decent separation distances and planting times between GM and other crops; and a strict liability code and liability funds to ensure that in the event of organic and conventional crops being contaminated by GMOs, those affected are reimbursed for their losses. Elizabet Lopez, CIIR's Environmental Campaign Coordinator, fully supports the bill. She said: "The GMO bill demands transparency, accountability, protection of the environment and corporate social responsibility. What happens in the UK will set a clear precedent for developing countries, who are currently being put under great pressure by powerful multinationals to introduce GM food and crops." The bill has been backed by the Five Year Freeze campaign, of which CIIR is a supporter. The campaign is an alliance of 120 national organisations who share the public's deep concern over the speed at which genetic engineering is being introduced into food and farming.
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