28 October 1999
Blair accused of Uturn on GM stance

THE government was accused of a U-turn over genetically-modified (GM) crops yesterday as ministers are expected to announce a ban on their release for the next three years.

Under a deal with the biotechnology industry, none of the crops will be planted commercially until current farm-scale trials are completed in 2002.

The deal is likely to be announced by the government next month. The scheme will extend the current one-year ban, due to expire next week.

Tim Yeo, the shadow environment minister, described the move as a humiliating climbdown for the government.

In The Independent, a director of biotech firm Monsanto refutes a recent critical article in the newspaper which argued that the courts should bring the biotechnology industry to account.

But in a report on agribiotechnolgy in the Financial Times, the critical line on GM technology continues.

Biotechnologists can take some comfort from the suggestion made by one source in the article that sheer boredom could prompt a more sober evaluation of GM food.

This process is forecast to take as long as five years.