14 May 1999

GM report leak sparks concern

A SECRET government-commissioned report is thought to confirm that cross-pollination between conventional and genetically modified crops can occur over long distances.

The report, Organic Farming and Gene Transfer from Genetically Modified Crops, compiled by the John Innes Centre in Norwich, was leaked to the Daily Mail newspaper this week.

It is believed to say that scientists have accepted cross contamination is inevitable. And it suggests that about 1% of conventional crops could be contaminated with pollen which is carried up to nine miles by bees and 100 miles on the wind.

The report is also thought to recommend that conventional and organic growers will have to accept a certain level of contamination.

But Patrick Holden director of the Soil Association was incensed by the recommendation.

He said four ministers, including farm minister Nick Brown and prime minister Tony Blair, had all pledged to protect and promote organic farming and consumer choice.

"When consumers say they want non-GM food, they dont mean food contaminated up to a threshold. They mean GM-free," said Mr Holden.

"If the government is going to do a U-turn on that pledge and expect us to agree to a threshold level of contamination, then they have a fight on their hands." &#42