BRITAIN WAIVES THE RULES
MAFF allows restricted pesticide on GM crops
26 Feb 2001
FoE Press Release
The Government is allowing a pesticide to be sprayed on winter GM crops - despite banning the practice for conventional varieties because of fears about its impact on the environment. And to make matters worse, information on tests undertaken to show whether spraying the pesticide on the crops is harmful to health or the environment is being kept secret. The Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (MAFF) has repeatedly denied FOE access to the information.FOE has now written to Agriculture Minister Baroness Hayman warning her that unless the Government provides the data by the end of the week it faces the prospect of a judicial revziew.
Spraying of Glufosinate Ammonium (GA), to control weeds, is banned from October to the end of February following concerns about its impact . The Advisory Committee on Pesticides warns in its 1991 Annual Report that “under certain conditions significant run-off or leaching could occur, leading to contamination of ground and surface water “. But, since the winter of 1999,biotech firm Aventis has been allowed to spray GA on winter GM oil seed rape trials.
FOE has frequently asked the Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD), part of MAFF, to supply information on the environmental and health tests carried out on GA. But the PSD has refused,claiming that it was voluntarily supplied by Aventis and even suggesting that disclosure would be a breach of commercial confidentiality. Friends of the Earth's legal advisor, Peter Roderick, has now written to Baroness Hayman stating that “after seeking Counsel's advice, FOE considers the failure to provide such information to be unlawful”. The letter calls on the PSD to comply with its obligations (under the 1992 Environmental Information Regulations and Regulation 17 of the 1995 Regulations) and provide the information, warning that “if the Directorate does not so comply, I will be advising FOE to seek a judicial review. Accordingly,please treat this letter as a letter before action”.
Pete Riley, Senior Food Campaigner at Friends of the Earth said: “The Government's stance on this issue is outrageous. It is allowing this pesticide to be spayed on GM crops in the winter while banning it for conventional crops. And despite repeated requests it is keeping the safety data secret. Once again New Labour is waiving the rules to please the biotech industry. If the Government doesn't come clean on this, it faces the prospect of Friends of the Earth seeking a judicial review.”
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