Organic farms at risk from new GM trial sites
9 March 2001
The Soil Association has identified five organic farms which lie within a 6 km radius of the government's recently announced spring GM trial sites. These organic farms therefore run the risk of having the organic status for crops and land removed if GM contamination occurs. A risk assessment will be undertaken based on exact distances, the type of crops grown both on the organic farm and at the trial site, predominant wind direction and topography.
Baroness Hayman stated that the recommended government separation distances of 80 - 100m should ensure that any contamination should not exceed 1 per cent and would generally be well below this level. However, the Soil Association says that separation distances of 3-6km are required (depending on the crop) in the light of independent research carried out by the National Pollen Research Unit (NPRU).
The Soil Association believes that the trial sites could lead to widespread GM contamination of the countryside which will be impossible to recall.
The government appears to have ignored other independent scientific evidence in drawing up voluntary guidelines. Nor have they taken heed of the practical example of the contaminated consignment of Advanta oilseed rape seed from Canada last year where separation distances of 4000m between GM and non-GM crops still resulted in contamination. The seed was planted extensively in Europe but the resulting plants destoyed (May 2000).
The Soil Association opposes the current UK trial sites because it considers there to be a serious lack of scientific knowledge of the processes of genetic modification and indeed the potential implications to health and the environment. The government must start making its decisions on genetic engineering on the basis of science, not industry opinion otherwise they are in danger of creating yet another agricultural crisis.
Contact Michele Burton
Tel : 0117 987 4562
Bristol House, 40-56 Victoria Street, Bristol BS1 6BY
Tel : 0117 929 0661
Fax : 0117 925 2504