LONDON — A UK government decision to extend the period for a public debate on GM crops has received a warm welcome.

Environment secretary Margaret Beckett confirmed this week she is pushing back the deadline for the debate to the end of September from the end of June. She also announced an increase in funding for the exercise to £500,000, up from £250,000 originally. It follows an unprecedented attack on the government's commitment to the debate back in November by a group of eleven scientific advisers, charged with helping to set up the consultation exercise.

They slammed the £250,000 funding as "derisory" and accused ministers setting an unrealistic cut-off date so that they "accept commercialization".

Confirmation of the extended deadline came in a letter from Beckett to the advisory group chairman Professor Malcolm Grant. Before Christmas, Grant had written to the environment secretary warning he had not been given...

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