26 May 2000
Legal threat to GM rape growers

FARMERS could face criminal prosecution if they try to sell genetically modified oilseed rape crops, Greenpeace has warned.

The environmental group is threatening to take the government to court if it does not block the sale of the rogue crops.

And it has given ministers seven days to warn farmers that any attempt to sell the contaminated rape crops would be illegal.

These were unwittingly planted by 600 British farmers sold GM seed mixed with conventional varieties after a blunder by seed company Advanta.

Similar contamination occurred in other European countries.

Greenpeace has already begun legal action against Advanta in Germany – and also against the German government – over the issue.

In a letter to ministers, Greenpeace claims any sale of the Advanta rape would constitute an illegal act under UK, and European regulations.

It argues that there is no “marketing consent” and it would be an offence under EU directive 90/220 to try to sell it.

Greenpeace urges the government to follow the lead of Sweden and France and take steps to have the crops destroyed.

Lord Melchett, Greenpeace UK executive director, said: “Decisive action is well overdue.

“If the government dont act within seven days, Greenpeace will act against them.”

The ministry of agriculture is currently investigating the legal position, reports the The Daily Telegraph.

Ministers concede the heat has been turned on them by the surprise by the decision by France to order the destruction of its GM crops, reports The Times.

It also claims there is a deep rift developing between Westminster and the Scottish Parliament.

Scottish Parliament farm minister Ross Finnie spoke of his deep anger that he was not informed until a month after London knew about the contamination.

Controversy surrounding tainted GM seed was heightened this week when The European Seed Association admitted it could not guarantee less than 1% GM contamination of seed.

The Telegraph quotes a senior government advisor who claims recent revelations mean the GM genie is now “out of the bottle”.

But Prof Alan Gray, head of Centre of Ecology and Hydrology in Dorset, said the situation was not out of control as the risk of cross-pollination was low.

The Daily Mail calls for a public revolt to compel the government to destroy the rogue GM crops.

It wants the biotech companies to compensate farmers, law to place liability on companies which profit, and the resignation of farm minister Nick Brown.

  • The GM seed fiasco – news roundup
  • The Guardian 26/05/2000 page 6
  • The Daily Telegraph 26/05/2000 page 1,2 and 14
  • Daily Mail 26/05/2000 page 12 and 18
  • The Times 26/05/2000 page 4

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