18 May 2001
Last Welsh GM trial may be scrapped

By Robert Davies, Wales correspondent

WALES may soon have no genetically modified crop trials after the last farmer taking part in the programme indicated that he may pull out.

John Cottle, who farms near Sealand in Flintshire, said he may abandon a GM maize trial, following a meeting with Waless rural affairs minister Carwyn Jones.

Mr Jones appealed to him to him not to take the already planted crop through to harvest, allowing Wales to keep the GM-free status its Assembly voted for.

Two other GM maize trials scheduled for Mathry in Pembrokeshire have already been abandoned.

Mr Cottle, accompanied by representatives of the seed company Aventis, met the minister for private talks at Welshpool, Powys, on Thursday (17 May).

Afterwards Mr Cottle said he would give his final decision next week.

Mr Jones urged him to follow the example of Tony Marlow, a former Tory MP, and his business partner Jill Chambers.

Ten days ago they pulled out of trials at Castle Cenlas farm near Mathry after opposition from local organic farmers, residents and environmental groups.

In a statement, the partners blamed a “deceitful and distorted campaign of misinformation” aimed at conventional farmers.

Mr Jones admitted neither he nor the Assembly had powers to ban the crop, but the sites had upset politicians, organic farmers and environmental groups.

Farmers Union of Wales spokesman Alan Morris praised the minister for his opposition to the trials, and Mr Cottle for listening to the arguments.

“We have opposed the trials from day one, not because we are Luddite but because we feel that insufficient indoor testing has been carried out,” said Mr Morris.

“If, as it seems, Mr Cottle has been impressed by the case put to him, and we believe that Wales can be a GM-free country.”

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