30 May 2000
Don’t destroy GM rape, say lawyers

By FWi staff

GROWERS should wait before destroying genetically contaminated oilseed rape crops, according to legal advice given to farmers leaders.

Officials from the National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS) met their lawyers and officials from the Scottish Executive on Tuesday (30 May).

Advanta Seeds UK has admitted supplying up to 600 farmers with enough contaminated seed to grow up to 4700ha of GM oilseed rape this spring.

Jim Walker, NFUS president, said that two clear issues emerged from what he described as detailed discussions since the fiasco emerged two weeks ago.

“Growers of Hyola oilseed rape must contact their seed merchants or Advanta with the utmost urgency to enable them to clearly identify the affected crops.”

Advice from agriculture minister Nick Brown – who said on Monday (29 May) that growers should destroy the crops – was open to question, Mr Walker added.

“Destruction and replacement of the crop is not a practical option with the timescale involved,” he added.

“Furthermore, attempting to market any of this crop may expose growers to potential legal action themselves.”

Mr Walker said the unions lawyers had advised him that growers should take no action on the crop during the next few days.

Any wrong course could jeopardise support payments and future production from land on which these crops are currently growing, he said.

“I realise the urgency of the situation as well as the totally unsatisfactory position that innocent growers currently face,” Mr Walker said.

Further advice is expected to become available after separate meetings later this week with Scottish Rural Affairs Minister Ross Finnie and Advanta Seeds.