3 October 2000
Aventis refuses to give GM evidence

By FWi staff

THE biotechnology company which wants to sell genetically modified fodder maize has refused to give evidence at a public hearing, reports The Times.

Aventis informed the first meeting of the 10-week hearing that it did not plan to call any witnesses to the hearing.

Hearing chairman Alun Alesbury, a senior planning barrister, reacted with anger, saying this was not helpful towards facilitating balanced proceedings.

The hearing will consider on the proposed addition of Chardon LL – a GM herbicide-tolerant forage maize – to the National Seed List.

Environmental groups said they were astonished at the decision, and asked why the public should have faith in GM products if Aventis was not prepared to argue for them

Listing is the final regulatory hurdle before the seed company can sell its seed to farmers.

Environmental groups argue that Chardon LL should not be listed until results are in from GM trials.

National listing of Chardon LL would not lead to immediate commercial cultivation of the variety, in any case.

Under an agreement between the seed industry and the government, there will be no marketing of the varieties until the farmscale trials are complete.

Objections will be heard from 67 witnesses including beekeepers, organic farmers and environmental groups.

Such a hearing over seed listings is unprecedented in British legal history and is expected to cost the Government 500,000, reports the Financial Times.

A ruling is not expected until next year.