16 August 1999
GM trials spread to Scotland

THE government is extending the testing of genetically modified (GM) crops to Scotland for the first time, according to a report in The Scotsman.

The newspaper says that up to a dozen new sites will be planted with GM oilseed rape north of the Border, as part of 25 outdoor trials planned for the UK next spring.

Another 25 are planned for the following autumn.

There are currently just two GM crops growing in Scotland. Both are on farmland belonging to the Scottish Agricultural College.

Also in The Scotsman, a leading Scottish scientist makes a call for a truce between organic farmers and biotechnologists by asking them both to realise the benefits of genetic modification.

Professor Michael Wilson, former deputy director of the Scottish Crop Research Institute, has just taken over as chief executive of Horticulture Research International/

He describes the aggression between the two camps as “vastly overdone” and based on a lack of understanding.

He said GM could be a “powerful weapon” for the organic lobby with its potential to reduce the amount of chemicals used. He accused the lobby of regarding GM science as a “genetic polluter”.

The Scottish Agricultural College will hold a two-day conference on GM crops and the environment in September at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.