21 April 2000

Falsified results claim denied

CLAIMS that falsified trial results have undermined the governments drive to commercialise the countrys first genetically modified crop have been rejected by the Cabinet Office .

The falsified data formed part of the results from a conventional GM maize trial by Suffolk-based firm Grainseed.

A MAFF document says a Grainseed employee altered data from the trials "so that they appeared to be within protocol for dry-matter content at harvest". The crops dry matter content is an important measure of feed quality.

It also appears that the employee manipulated data on individual varieties – increasing the dry matter of some and decreasing that of others.

A Sunday newspaper claimed the revelation meant government-backed GM seed trials had been undermined because Grainseed was also carrying out trials on the GM maize variety Chardon LL.

Suggestions of a link between GM trials and falsified data from the conventional crop were scotched by a Cabinet Office spokeswoman. But she admitted the GM maize results had been scrapped because the crop failed.

She said results from four other seed trials for the GM maize had provided sufficient data for Chardon LL to continue its progress towards commercialisation and the Cabinet Office had reviewed Grainseed data for trials carried out in 1997 and had found no evidence of tampering.

But Peter Riley, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth, called for a review of the companys figures for 1998 trials of GM maize.

"How can the public have any confidence in a government decision based on scientific data from a company which has been shown to produce false data?" &#42