16 April 1999
New call for five-year GM ban

THE governments wildlife advisor, English Nature, has reiterated its call for a five-year ban on the commercial release of genetically modified (GM) crops.

Baroness Young, the Labour peer who chairs the organisation, told MPs that several generations of crops had to be grown before the cumulative effects on wildlife and plants could be assessed.

The peer told the Commons environmental audit select committee that a ban until 2003 would allow more research on results of field trials.

A ban on commercial GM crops for that period would dismay the biotechnology industry.

Genetic modification can bring huge environmental and commercial benefits, according to Dr John Kilpatrick of the ADAS food and farm consultancy.

Dr Kilpatrick, addressing delegates at a conference on farming and the environment in Coverntry, said the concerns of consumers had to be addressed.

But he dismissed cross-pollination fears and worries about the development of superweeds.

He said there were clear benefits in terms of improved pharmaceuticals, plant protection and the production of novel plants.