Ministers seek guarantees before GM trials restart
Saturday 17 August 2002
Ministers warned yesterday that they would extend a freeze on the commercial planting of genetically modified (GM) crops in Britain unless biotechnology companies could guarantee their seed stocks were uncontaminated.
The companies were ordered by the Government to tighten quality controlsafter the discovery of a variety of unauthorised genetically modified oilseed rape in 14 fields in England and Scotland. Ministers have also ordered a review of their own regulatory procedures and safeguards after inspectors failed to discover the contamination for three years.
Elliot Morley, an Environment minister, expressed his anger at Aventis, the biotechnology company responsible for producing the seeds. He said the Government was considering prosecution. The Government said the farm-scale trials would not be abandoned, but suspended until guarantees had been gained.
Mr Morley said he would be prepared to delay commercial planting of GM crops beyond the moratorium that ends next year. He said the Government would not press ahead with commercial planting until it had assessed the risks.
"The real damage is to the credibility of the biotech companies in relation to quality control, and it is inevitable that people will be concerned about it if this kind of poor quality control slips through the procedures," Mr Morley said. "We have made it very clear that if we are not satisfied with the information, or there are elements of doubt, then we will be seeking to keep the moratorium [on commercial planting] in place for a longer period."
Environmental groups said the Government's programme of farm-scale trials, which began three years ago, was invalid because of doubts over whether other seed stocks were pure. The unauthorised variety of oilseed rape, which the Government was told about on 7 August, contained an extra gene that had been modified to make it resistant to at least two types of antibiotics.
Friends of the Earth called for the seed stocks of all biotechnology firms involved in the trials to be tested.
Mammoth ivory trade: Should the prehistoric species be protected – to save the elephant?
Almost every seabird 'will have eaten plastic by 2050' because of ocean pollution
Energy companies more reliant on 'dirty' coal to produce electricity than they were a decade ago
Pope Francis calls for a new system of global government to tackle climate change
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
- 1 If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
- 2 David De Gea: Manchester United goalkeeper's £29m move to Real Madrid off - because paperwork 'not done in time'
- 3 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 4 Pansexual: What is it - and when did the term gain popularity?
- 5 New Apple TV release date and price: streaming box and games console will launch in October
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms
£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...
£30000 - £250000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker/ Trainee FX, Stoc...
£30 - 40k + Benefits & Bonus: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / ...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is the single governing and regul...