6 October 1995

Extra check on biotech

OVERBEARING legislation could mean farmers have a longer wait than necessary for varieties benefiting from biotechnology, warns Dr Roger Turner, chief executive of the British Society of Plant Breeders.

Europe plans to regulate the technology, rather than the products, as in the USA and Japan, he told a technology interaction symposium last week. That means extra checks over and above those already in place for checking produce quality throughout the food chain. He also branded the European constraints technically obsolete and too precautionary. But breeders do not want to skimp on safety, he stressed.

He also claimed emotional outcries hold too much sway. "There are calls for irrelevant safety evaluations, mandatory labelling and so on.

"All add to the cost of bringing the benefits of technologies to the market place, but offer no real benefit to consumer or environment," he said.