THE Co-operative Group has joined forces with the Consumers' Association, Greenpeace and Unilever to launch an eight -week independent GM citizens' jury to help shape the Government's decision over the commercialisation of genetically modified crops in the UK.
In a unique consultation exercise, there will be 30 jury members, split into two groups – in Newcastle and St Albans – who have been chosen from a mix of social backgrounds, ages, ethnic groups and genders.
The jurors will meet twice a week for eight weeks to hear a wide selection of witnesses present the broad range of issues relating to GM foods. At the end of this period the jury will produce a report outlining its conclusions and verdict.
To ensure that the result of the GM jury is fair and representative, an oversight panel has been appointed composed of a range of stakeholders including those with experience of the biotechnology industry and of organising similar initiatives to involve the public in decision-making.
The jurors themselves will guide the focus of discussions and they will also have an opportunity to call in further witnesses at the end of the period if required.
David Croft, Head of Co-op Brand and Technical for the Co-operative Group, said: `Seeking the views of our members and consumers in this way is both fundamental to our approach and vital to developing the most effective way of addressing the question of GM.
`The jury's output is eagerly awaited and will be a valuable contribution to the public debate.`