Government unveils 28 new sites for GM crop tests

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The Independent Online

The Government has named the 28 sites which are to be used to grow genetically-modified maize in new farm trials.

The Government has named the 28 sites which are to be used to grow genetically-modified maize in new farm trials.

Oilseed rape and beet sites were announced on 28 February, but since then one of the oilseed rape sites hasbeen withdrawn and is replaced by a new site at Atherstone on Stour, Warwickshire.

The Government said that four more maize sites may be notified by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR). The Scientific Steering Committee, which oversees the trials, has asked the department to provide 32 sites for Spring trials.

The committee has recommended that a total of between 60 and 70 sites be used for each of the four GM crops involved in the trials ­ spring oilseed rape, winter oilseed rape, beet and maize, to obtain scientifically valid results from the three-year programme.

The DETR said there is no increase in the overall number of trial sites originally announced. The Government said all of the seeds in the trials have been through safety tests and that these trials are to discover whether planting herbicide-tolerant GM crops, and using weedkillers associated with them, might affect surrounding wildlife.All of the evidence collected will be studied by the independent steering committee and the results made public.

The Government said it believes the public should be made aware of any GM trails being conducted in their neighbourhoods. It has agreed with the GM and farming industries to increase the period of notification given to the public over GM trails, so they can discover more about trials in their area.

Details of the new maize sites ­ 25 in England and three in Wales ­ are available at www.detr.gov.uk.

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