Planting of GM crops to be halted
Commercial planting will not be allowed until enough data have been gathered. The assurance, amounting to an indefinite moratorium, will go some way to meeting concerns of the Government's wildlife advisers, English Nature, that the countryside may be devastated by new weedkillers which most of the crops are being designed to accommodate.
English Nature and its sister agencies in Wales and Scotland have called for a three-to-five-year moratorium on commercial plantings until research on the new weedkillers, and the possible transpollination effect on wild plants of the GM crops, has been carried out. Tony Blair has publicly rejected the moratorium call.
Mr Meacher said yesterday: "We need the accurate, scientifically based data on which we can make the judgment that the sowing of GM crops and the use of their accompanying herbicides does not cause significant damage to the environment."
His comments came as the Government took the unprecedented step of issuing all its MPs with a "fact-pack" signed by five ministers and designed to quell fears over GM crops.
It illustrates the depth of government anxiety over the issue. "The Government recognises there is public concern about genetic modification. It is a fast-moving science and we accept we do not always have all the answers. We want to understand people's views," the letter said.
At present the Government has agreed a voluntary moratorium on commercial GM plantings with the biotechnology industry until spring 2000. Yesterday both English Nature and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said that that this would not nearly be long enough for proper test data to be gathered.
Two farms are being used this summer to test the large-scale environmental effects of growing oilseed rape genetically modified to be herbicide-tolerant, which is first in the queue for commercial growth in the UK.
But Mr Meacher said that if not enough data had been collected by next spring, he would go back to the biotechnology companies and explain that more time was needed.
In the light of current publicity, he said, he would expect them to co- operate, but hinted that if they did not, the Government would force them to.
Although Monsanto and Zeneca, two of the biggest biotechnology companies, said on Wednesday that they would fight, in the European Court, any enforced delay on commercial plantings, Article 16 of the European Union directive regulating GM crop plantings gives the Government power to stop them and revoke licences already given, if new information is discovered that they may be harmful to the environment.
- 1 Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
- 2 McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 5 David Beckham's Haig Club whisky is exactly what’s wrong with the Highlands
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery rumours: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Eleven members of same family hospitalised after eating deadly pufferfish
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
Phone-hacking: The Piers Morgan connection - Mirror admits some stories during Morgan's tenure may have been obtained by illegal means
Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
Poppy Appeal 2014: This is why I won't be wearing a red poppy this year
£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...