Greenpeace calls on Government to Halt New GM Trials and Remove Flower Heads from Current Trials
For immediate release: 28th February, 2001.
On the day that the Government announced this Spring's GM crop trial sites Greenpeace has called on them to immediately halt the GM trials and remove the flower heads of all GM crops currently growing, in order to stop contamination of surrounding farms.
Last year, UK farmers bought seed from Canada that was found to be GM-contaminated. Canadian Authorities are still investigating if this contamination was caused by GM crops cross-pollinating with conventional crops planted over 800 metres away.
This serious contamination incident prompted the UK Government to launch a full review of separation distances for GM crops from neighbouring farms. The Government's Review was initiated as a three-pronged enquiry encompassing a scientific review, a public consultation and an investigation into what caused the Canadian incident.
In a recent letter to Minister of State for the Environment the Rt. Hon Michael Meacher MP Greenpeace stated that this Government review was incomplete since there had been no conclusions made regarding what caused the Canadian incident. Greenpeace stated that until such conclusions had been made the GM trials should be halted and current GM crops should have their flower heads removed before cross-pollination could take place.
Greenpeace campaigner Sarah North said, "The Canadian incident prompted the UK's review of separation distances. The Government still hasn't a clue about what caused the Canadian contamination. Yet they're pressing on regardless with growing GM crops in full knowledge that this may be risking contamination of neighbouring farms. This is irrational and irresponsible".
Last Autumn, as winter GM crop trials were planted, Government Environment Minister Beverley Hughes reassured rural communities that these crops may have their flower heads removed in March 2001 as a precaution to avoid cross-pollination. This decision was to be made on the basis of the Government's review of separation distances (1).
North continued, "To allow these current crops to flower in the absence of results of the review is monumentally reckless".
1) Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions News Release 559: "Hughes Announces Consent for Autumn Farm Scale Trials", 23 August 2000.
For more information call the Greenpeace Press Office on 0207 865 8255 pager 01399 787076.