17 May 1999
Activists put farmers off GM trials

FARMERS are shunning trials of genetically modified (GM) crops because of concern over sabotage by hard-line environmentalists.

Scientists from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) in charge of government trials say that many farmers are unwilling to take part because they believe their land will become a scene of conflict.

The field trials were to be the first large-scale attempts to assess the risks to wildlife from GM crops.

They are designed to be run by independent institutes without funding from commercial organisations.

Professor Mike Roberts of the NERC said the trials could be in jeopardy because of farmers refusal to participate.

The trials, costing £3.3 million for three types of herbicide-resistant crop, are due to run until 2002 and will compare GM and non-GM crops at more than 20 sites throughout Britain.