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The Pension Fund invests in GM for business

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The Labor Party was forced to take a defensive stance yesterday after it turned out that millions of pounds from the pension fund had been invested in companies producing GM food.

The Labor Party was forced to take a defensive stance yesterday after it turned out that millions of pounds from the pension fund had been invested in companies producing GM food.

A spokesman insisted that the party did not shy away from such investments because fund managers of a £ 30m fund were obliged to secure the best returns from the market.

But the disclosure was an embarrassment to ministers who are struggling to allay public concerns about genetically modified foods that spend millions of the risk of smoking.

The Labor Party defended its investments yesterday after it was found that the management of the Phillips and Drew Fund Management in the city had withdrawn large sums from the pension fund to the companies that were the focus of the protests.

The Novartis and AstraZeneca genetically modified food conglomerates, and the five leading tobacco companies in the world, including BAT, Imperial and Seita.

The investment was made two years ago when the party relaxed its guidelines on how to invest money in the Labor Party’s Pension Association, which provides pensions to 600 workers from the Workers’ Party.

A spokesman for the party said yesterday that there was no investment error. “In conjunction with several funds, the trustees chose to delegate the management of the fund, in this case to Phillips and Drew.

“They have an enviable record in corporate governance about unethical policies,” he said. “But they are forced to get the best return to the fund.

“You can not put tight limits on these investments.”

The spokesman added that the government’s position on genetically modified foods – to proceed with research because of potential benefits – was well known. “The idea that we should be embarrassed to invest in companies that have a stake in genetically modified foods is ridiculous,” he said.

However, the disclosure came at a critical moment for the government.

Just last week Stephen Steams, the pension minister, unveiled new rules that would force all professional pension schemes to determine their position on social, environmental and moral investment.

The government hopes to discourage investment in companies that cause damage to the environment.

“Ordinary people want to know what is being done with the money invested on their behalf,” Mr. Tims said.

AstraZeneca leads the market in the production of genetically modified tomatoes. Novartis produces GM corn.