Wales could soon have the power to impose a blanket ban on GM crop production in order to protect its multi- million pound food industry.

Currently the Welsh Government’s approach to the planting of GM crops is the most restrictive allowed under European Union law.

A complete ban would breach existing legislation but proposals under consideration would allow individual countries to make their own decision.

It would mean that Wales could cite the harm GM production could have on the green and natural image of its food industry.

Former Carmarthenshire cheese producer Sue Jones believes it is vital to protect that image.

"All the hard work that has been put into promoting Welsh food would be damaged,’’ she told a conference in Aberystwyth which gave an insight into GM technology.

Dr Brian John, a co-founder of GM-Free Cymru, believed it was worrying that corporate funding was being used to fund GM research and not money from the public purse.

He suggested that this allowed for the manipulation of results and therefore the research could not be trusted.

"The science of GM is one that cannot be trusted because of the way it is so carefully manipulated by the GM industry. The record books are full of fraudulent GM research,’’ insisted Dr John, who campaigned against the field scale trials in Pembrokeshire more than a decade ago.

The conference at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) was hosted by the Welsh branches of the Women’s Food and Farming Union and chaired by its former president, Ionwen Lewis.

One of the delegates, Karen Bellis, who runs 130 suckler cows and 130 sheep near Wrexham, called on the Welsh Government to insist on clear labeling of products containing GMOs.

She said family farms in Wales could not compete with cheap imports from countries where the feeding of GM soya is permitted.

Mrs Bellis reckons that if the WG is serious about supporting consumers who oppose GM crop production in Wales, it should insist on clearer labeling on imported meat.

"Family farms in Wales are failing because they can’t compete with imported factory farmed meat. I am not a scientist questioning the rights and wrongs of GM technology, I am a farmer who wants a level playing field,’’ she told the conference.

"The wall that the Welsh Government has built to protect consumers has great big holes in it. If GM crops are so awful that we can’t have sight of these let alone produce them why are we being allowed to eat them? Why is the Welsh Government and the UK Government not pushing for absolute clarity on imported meat?’’ Among the conference speakers were scientists from IBERS. Parallels were drawn between the science used at IBERS to develop new grass seed varieties and GM technology but plant biochemist, Dr Alison Kingston-Smith, stressed that although genetic material was indeed moved, it was a natural process.

"GM technology involves introducing foreign DNA into an organism but at IBERS we manipulate the DNA that is already there,’’ she said.