A few days ago I blogged about the impending EU decision about whether to regulate New Breeding Techniques as GMOs, partly to distract myself from Brexit. It failed.
Writing the post caused me to stumble across a call by GM Freeze to write to your MEPs to ask them to vote to regulate New Breeding Techniques as GMOs. I promptly wrote to my MEPs asking them to make a decision based on science.
I was a bit shocked to discover that all my MEPs were either Conservative or UKIP, and I was so surprised by the response from a UKIP MEP’s political advisor that I wanted to share it. I was very grateful to have received his opinion and shouldn’t have been surprised by its content.
The first bit made me very glad I’d written:
“Thank you for your email regarding the McIntyre Report addressed to Stuart Agnew MEP. He has asked me to reply to you on his behalf.
“You are quite right in suggesting that Mr Agnew has received a good many emails asking him to oppose the report. Yours is the only email taking a more balanced look at the matter. He has an open mind about this new technology.”
It was great to hear that he has an open mind, but the first part worried me – his electorate aren’t urging him to make decisions based on evidence. Those who take them time to write are those with an axe to grind.
No doubt many voters are keen to encourage MPs to look at the evidence, but it’s not generally something you write about. You do write if you have a strong emotional attachment to a particular point of view, whether or not the evidence supports it.
Campaign groups are active in their letter writing. Do we need to follow suit? Once again, the people with extreme views are shouting the loudest. Is the same true of Brexit? This is the second part of the reply:
“However, Mr Agnew firmly believes that decisions about what we grow on our own soil and the techniques used should be a matter for our own elected Government and Parliament at Westminster. Unfortunately, the power to control the use of GM technology was long ago surrendered to Brussels. As an MEP elected on a platform of withdrawal from the EU, he has no mandate to support legislative proposals from the unelected European Commission. You may not be aware that the Commission is the sole originator of new EU legislation and our country is subject to diktats from the Commission in this and many other areas.
“He is actively campaigning for a Brexit vote on 23rd June to get these powers returned to Westminster and because he believes that the EU is a failed political experiment that has become the enemy of democracy and is proceeding from one crisis to the next, many of its own making. He also does not wish to bequeath to future generations a system of government under which their votes in General Elections mean nothing because all the major decisions are taken by unelected European Commission bureaucrats in another country.”
I’ve replied to ask for an explanation of ‘no mandate’ [Response 9 June].
If I believed that we would be more likely to make evidence-based decisions in Westminster than in Brussels, I’d be all for Brexit. However, the many decisions made solely by MPs in Westminster certainly don’t support this hypothesis.