environmental activists severely criticised the British government after it refused to rule out commercial farming of controversial genetically modified ( gm) crops before the three-year trial period is completed.
Cabinet minister Jack Cunningham told BBC Radio: "If we were satisfied that one crop had cleared all the tests satisfactorily and had been given a clean bill of environmental health, I can't think of any logical reason why that should be held up."
Environmental pressure groups said Cunningham's comments showed the government was using the tests as a cover to press ahead with gm crops despite growing public hostility.
"This is the clearest indication that these trials are a yellowing, shrivelled fig leaf trying to cover the government's passion for genetically modified foods," a spokesman for Greenpeace said. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said prejudging trial results would be "completely bonkers".
Public opinion in the uk is firmly opposed to gm crops, but prime minister Tony Blair's government has said the country's competitiveness in research will be jeopardised if trials are blocked.
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