At least 10 years of monitoring needed where GMO seeds planted by mistake
EXCERPT: Peter Melchett, policy director of the Soil Association, told the Daily Mail that a GM rape seed experiment in Sweden some years ago was found to still have GM rape seed traces six years after being 'cleared' and added, “For that reason DEFRA need to advise that they will be monitoring where this GM seed was planted and checking it for at least ten years.”
Alarm as GM crops planted by mistake: Oilseed rape fields to be destroyed after they were contaminated with seed from France
By Christian Gysin
Daily Mail, 30 Oct 2015
* DEFRA made the recall announcement after GM Inspectorate's findings
* Unintended presence of GM seed in a batch of imported oilseed rape seed
* The fiasco meant that seed had been sown in a number of small sites
* Plots were used as trial areas for the registration of new plant varieties
Genetically modified oilseed rape plants and seed are to be destroyed after they were found to be among batches reportedly imported from France.
The Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) made the recall announcement after their GM Inspectorate confirmed the unintended presence of GM seed in a batch of imported conventional oilseed rape seed.
The fiasco meant that seed had been sown in a number of small and unidentified experimental sites in both England and Scotland.
The plots were being used as trial areas for the official registration of new plant varieties and the GM seed was found after tests were carried out.
Defra’s GM Inspectorate (GMI) was told of the test results by a seed company and the firm has since confirmed that it will now be destroying all the affected plants.
Any seed from the same French batch is also being recalled with the GMI overseeing the same operation in England.
DEFRA also said that there was no risk to any adjacent crops or the wider environment as the plants that have grown from the affected seed would not be in flower until next Spring.
Rape seed is grown as a raw material for biodiesel, industrial oils and many lubricants and is also used as a source of cooking oil for the production of margarine.
However how and why the batch of GM rapeseed came from France remains a mystery.
Last night Peter Melchett, policy director of the Soil Association, told the Daily Mail that a GM rape seed experiment in Sweden some years ago was found to still have GM rape seed traces six years after being ‘cleared’ and added, "For that reason DEFRA need to advise that they will be monitoring where this GM seed was planted and checking it for at least ten years.
"The problem with GM is that the science is unpredictable and once genes have been affected and other items have been released into the environment you simply can’t recall them."
He added that in North America hundreds of thousands of dollars had been lost when long grain rice production was found to have been "infected" by unauthorised GM.
He added that a two thirds of the states within the EU have now reconsidered the GM issue and do not want GM crops – including Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Last night Professor Huw Jones, head of Cereal Transformation Lab at Rothamsted (correct) Research , took a slightly different view. He said, "It is unfortunate that GM seeds have been found in a batch of imported conventional oil seed rape but this confirms that UK screening procedures are robust and this was identified at an early stage of cultivation to allow effective remedial actions to be taken."
Under the latest EU rules, GM crops must be formally authorised before they can be cultivated in the EU geographical area.
This directive gives member states and devolved administrations the power to make their own decisions on the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) within their territory.
In recent years the GM industry has been accused of trying to promote GM crops as an answer to the global food crisis.
Opponents of GM crops maintain that the science is still too imprecise for the safe and consistent cultivation of GM crops. There have also been concerns over GM contaminating nearby organic plants and crops.
Last night Liz O’Neill, a Director of GM Freeze – a campaign group which calls for greater research into GM foods and new technology – said, "Incidents like this show that GM crops are a very real threat to conventional farming.
"Any hay fever sufferer can tell you how far that pollen would have spread if the GM plants had been allowed to flower.
"But the even bigger question is where the GM oil seed rape came from in the first place.
"It shouldn’t be growing in France either, so it’s clear that the only way to protect our right to choose GM free is to say no to GM on our farms in our food."