JUNIOR DEFRA minister Elliot Morley has claimed that the FSE study demonstrates “the government”s precautionary approach on GM crops”.

The biotech industry”s response to the results has focused on the positive aspects. Tony Combes, deputy chairman of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, said that GM crops offer a more flexible weed management option for farmers with minimal difference between their environmental impact and that of conventional crops.

Bob Fiddaman, chairman of the Supply Chain Initiative on Modified Agricultural Crops, added that the FSE results suggested that “this GM crop could offer precisely the kind of economic and environmental benefits farmers will need to remain competitive”.

SEVERE BLOW

But Friends of the Earth said the results were a severe blow to the biotech industry on account of the GM crop”s “negative impact on farmland wildlife”. Sue Mayer, director of GeneWatch, said the problems for wildlife caused by the management of the GM crop and the poor grass weed control provided by glufosinate should make farmers think twice about going down the GM route.

“Winter-sown oilseed rape is a big crop in the UK, with 330,000ha (815,000 acres) grown, so the GM crop would have an enormous negative impact on wildlife. Taking into account as well the problems of contamination and the lack of a market, it all suggests that it is time to abandon GM crops in the UK,” Dr Mayer said.