08 July 1998
GM crops worry English Nature

ENGLISH NATURE, the Governments wildlife agency, said the introduction of genetically modified (GM) crops next year was likely to be a revolution as profound as the introduction of intensive farming in the 1940s.

It warned it could be “the final blow” for some species.

It is particularly concerned about the effect that the replacement of natural grasses with new GM varieties designed to tolerate herbicides, will have on pastureland areas. It fears cutting the number of grasses in dairy pastures to one species instead of the present 15-20 in the West Country will reduce farmland birds.

It is also worried about artificially constructed genes not found in natural organisms. They are used to change the starch, fat or protein contents of food crops.

It wants the rules regarding the release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to take account of their potential ecological effects and it wants itself and the Government wildlife agencies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to be directly represented on the committee that vets the release of GMOs.

It called for a three-year moratorium on the commercial growing of GM crops. This will prove an embarrassment to the Government which is on the point of giving a “seed-listing” or licence for commercial use to the first GM crop to be available for British farmers – a herbicide-tolerant oilseed rape.

  • The Daily Telegraph 08/07/98 page 11
  • The Independent 08/07/98 page 5
  • The Guardian 08/07/98 page 11