9 July 1999

Anti-GM stance in Europe a threat to developing world?

Genetically modified crops

and new pesticide chemistry

were the topics for debate

at a recent AgreNova open

day organised by AgrEvo in

Norfolk. Andrew Blake

reports the key messages

EUROPES reluctance to introduce commercial GM crops risks stifling developments sorely needed in developing countries, according to the head of AgrEvo UK, Harry Kershaw.

Mr Kershaws remark came during a briefing on latest moves in the merger of the life science activities of parent company Hoechst with Rhône Poulenc to form Aventis CropScience.

"If Europe really gets sticky it will be putting a spanner in the gears of a science which is probably going to do the developing world much more good than it will the developed world. It would be a very selfish attitude."

The merger, which is expected to be complete by the end of the year, was unlikely to have taken place had it not been for biotechs huge demand for research cash, Mr Kershaw said.

Colleague Des DSouza said he believed the UK system of regulating the marketing of GM crops, which includes monitoring of their impact on biodiversity and the environment, should become the template for the rest of Europe.

Reacting to recent EU environment ministers moves to block licensing of new GM products for at least the next two years, he stressed they remained only proposals which needed European parliament backing. "Nothing will change unless parliament agrees." Much of what was suggested was already covered by SCIMACs codes, he said. &#42

AGRENOVADAY POINTERS

&#8226 Aventis merger by end of year.

&#8226 Europes GM attitude "selfish".

&#8226 Mixed recipes needed for GMs.

&#8226 Promising sulfonylureas on way.