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Independent on Sunday

Sainsbury is attacked for GM share 'profits'.  By Jo Dillon Political Correspondent. 26 May 2002

Lord Sainsbury, the Science minister and a multi-million-pound donor to New Labour, has made £20m paper profit on GM food shares.

The billionaire, a known supporter of controversial GM technology, has shares in Innotech – an investment firm with interests in several biotechnology companies – that rose in value from £26.9m in 1998 to £42.6m at the end of 2000, it was reported last night.

Critics have seized on the disclosure, insisting there was a conflict of interest.

But the Department for Trade and Industry defended the minister last night, stressing that all of Lord Sainsbury's business interests were held in a blind trust and that the department did not have control over policy on GM food and technology.

The news comes as Tony Blair is being put under pressure to make special advisers donate part of their salary to help the Labour Party's cash crisis. The party already has a scheme to force Labour MPs to pay 2 per cent of their salary to the party. Now senior MPs and some ministers are calling on the Prime Minister to impose a similar tithe on spin doctors and other party-appointed advisers.

The wage bill for such advisers – most of it picked up by the taxpayer – is now £4.2m a year. Donations from them could raise around £336,000. Labour is thought to be around £10m in debt after the 2001 Election.