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.
Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Easy living: The truth about modern communes
Frilled shark: Australian fishermen capture terrifying shark from the deep
Pope Francis calls for a new system of global government to tackle climate change
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 2 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 3 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 4 Bob Geldof offers to take four refugee families into his home 'immediately' as he condemns humanitarian crisis as a ‘f**king disgrace'
- 5 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...
£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...
£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...
£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...