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Caithness News Bulletins April 2004

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The Highland Council today (Wednesday) joined the EU Network of GM-free Regions by declaring that the Highlands had nothing to gain from genetically modified technology and much to lose.

Councillor Richard Durham, Chairman of the Council's Land and Environment Select Committee, was in Linz, Northern Austria, to add the Council's voice to the lobbying campaign to persuade the European Commission to give the 10 member regions the legal right to declare themselves GM-free.

He said: "In the Highlands of Scotland we have nothing to gain from the introduction of this technology and much to lose.  We will never compete in the industrial commodity production business that is modern intensive agriculture - nor would we wish to.  Our farms, our products, our markets, our very way of life is different from this. 

"Alone we could never hope to convince the EU to help us to protect our fragile economy from the risks posed by the introduction of GM crops. However, by joining together with others of a similar viewpoint and by adding our voice, we hope that we can be heard."

Councillor Durham stressed the importance of the Highland environment to the local economy.  "Our whisky distillers advertise the image of wind-swept hillsides, peat fires, clear, cold rivers and grain produced by small family-farms.  Our salmon farmers advertise the clean
coastlines and lack of polluting industry.  Our tourism trade tempt stressed city-dwellers with the image of a slower pace of life in clean,
natural surroundings.

"You can imagine, then, how alien the concept of genetically modified crops is to our resident population and to the purchasers of our produce and the reasons why we believe that we should be free to make our own choice and designate our own area as GM-free."