14 January 2000

Retailer bans produce from old GM sites former GM sit

TESCOS decision to impose a one-season ban on farm produce grown on land used for genetically modified crop trials will not deter farmers from offering land for GM trials, says the Supply Chain Initiative on Modified Agricultural Crops

Tescos intentions sparked controversy last week when Greenpeace UK director Lord Melchett told the Oxford Farming Conference that the ban meant producers faced the prospect of never being able to sell food from land used for GM trials.

But Roger Turner chairman of SCIMAC, the umbrella group for the introduction of GM crops into commercial production, said: "The general view is this ban will have a minimal impact on the field trials."

Now Tesco has confirmed the ban applies only to salad and vegetable crops and that there only needs to be one seasons separation between growing GM crops before Tesco will take produce again, means even farmers who supply supermarkets have agreed to press ahead, he said.

He believed the trials would continue as planned and that enough sites had been found for spring plantings.

But a Greenpeace spokesman thought Tescos stance would inevitably make the prospect of holding trials less appealing.

Farmers ran the risk of depressing the subsequent value of their land, as has been advised by the Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors, he warned.

A Tesco spokesman explained that Lord Melchetts original announcement had been based on a draft letter which was later changed. A statement from the retailer read: "Fresh produce supplied to Tesco must not have been grown on land used for GM crop trials without at least one seasons separation."

A company spokesman denied that the supermarket chain had back-tracked after criticism from the Cabinet Office. &#42