8 December 2000

Breeders urged to discuss GM rules

PLANT breeders must work with the government to explain how rigorous GM crop regulations are. They must also talk more when problems arise, rather than wait until a full explanation can be given.

Referring to problems with GM contaminated Hyola spring rapeseed earlier this year, farm minister Baroness Hayman urged the British Society of Plant Breeders at its annual lunch in London this week not to breathe a sigh of relief now that problem had passed.

With further problems likely next year action is needed now. "We do need to do more to get the context of science and regulatory work out into the open before the next crisis."

She welcomed a new BSPB publication explaining the workings of the plant breeding industry and said government is planning a major exhibition to explain GM crop regulations to the public.

"If nothing has come out showing harm then people ask if the process is wrong. So we need to start explaining that the process is robust."

She also urged the industry to talk more, rather than staying quiet while trying to resolve problems. "Being seen to be secretive is worse than being seen to have gaps in knowledge." &#42