19 May 2000
GM boob stays in the headlines

FALLOUT from the disclosure that rape seed containing genetically modified material has been planted throughout Europe still dominates the newspapers.

The British governments delay in announcing up to 15,000 hectares have been unwittingly planted with GM contaminated rape seed is widely criticised.

But there are differing opinions on whether the rogue crops should now be dug up.

The Guardian reports that the government is resisting calls to destroy contaminated crops.

Its editorial questions “whether the GM genie is now out of the bottle and out of the control of any national government”.

The newspaper calls for the government to defend its commitment to have no commercial GM crops until at least 2003.

“And that means digging up these GM contaminated crops as soon as possible,” it states.

The Times, claims Advanta Seeds – the company which sold the contaminated seeds – could be prosecuted by the government.

However, BBC Online reports that government considered this but was told no action was possible.

Junior agriculture minister Baroness Hayman, told the BBC that expert advisors had so far concluded that no offence had been committed by Canadian company, Advanta.

However, farmers say they may yet sue for loss of earnings and environmental campaigners are also considering legal action, reports BBC Online.

In it editorial The Times says farm minister Nick Brown has science on his side when he said on Thursday (18 May) that the crops are safe.

But it criticises the government for “inertia that has smacked of confusion and cover-up” for the delay in revealing the contamination.

This is “public relations disaster that will set back the cause of biotechnology,” claims The Times.

The Daily Mail accuses the government of deceit “after covering up details of Britains worst GM contamination blunder”.

In its editorial it says the government must order a clear up of the contaminated fields, regardless of the cost.

“It is not an option for ministers simply to sit tight and hope for the best.”

TheDaily Express focuses on the probability that the seeds were contaminated by cross-pollination in Canada, despite isolation distances there exceeding UK guidelines.

It claims big GM companies have lulled governments into a false sense of security and calls for tighter controls.

But it adds that “the shocking reality is that is probably already too late”