Environment Daily 1175, 11/03/02
French rules on outdoor trials of genetically modified (GM) crops should be tightened, a group of experts commissioned by the agriculture and environment ministries has concluded. The report argues that France's fields should not be allowed to become "extensions of laboratories" and recommends a series of changes, including greater emphasis on "confined" trials in greenhouses. The report, published on Thursday, represents the final stage in a government-organised public debate on the future of GM field trials (ED 19/11/01)
The process was prompted by public concern over potential environmental risks (ED 29/08/01)
Written by three "wise men", the report argues that the public and locally elected officials must be given a greater role in deciding how and when open-air field trials should take place. At the moment, "too small a group of people" is taking such decisions, and the process is not transparent, the report concludes. Field trials should not take place until the usefulness of laboratory and greenhouse-based tests has been exhausted, the report asserts, adding that the number of outdoor trials "should probably be reduced" from the 109 that took place in 2001.
Other recommended changes include significantly increasing distances between GM and conventional crops, and ensuring that security measures to protect against transgenic pollination remain in place long after trials are completed.
Follow-up: French environment ministry
http://www.environnement.gouv.fr/, tel: +33 1 42 19 20 21,
and the report