GM crop trials go ahead

THE GOVERNMENT refused to back down yesterday on its plans for "farm-scale" trials of genetically modified (GM) crops, despite evidence released this week that the plants' pollen can travel further than thought - 2.5 miles.

Jeff Rooker, the Minister of State for Agriculture, rejected suggestions that the Department for the Environment should alter its approach to the trials, which will involve planting field-sized areas with GM crops to investigate their effect on the surrounding ecology.

Yet only three sites will be planted this year, which some scientists say is too few to draw useful conclusions.

Michael Meacher, the Environment minister, said up to 20 sites are planned and the trials will take up to four years. The Government refused to countenance changes to the trials even after government-sponsored research suggested the precautions are inadequate.

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