16 September 1999
Scientist at the centre of GM storm

THE seeds of trouble were sown in the countryside long before the current concern over genetically-modified (GM) crops.

That is the view of Alan Gray, the professor charged by the government with overseeing GM crop trials, who is interviewed in The Daily Telegraph.

Prof Gray claims the GM furore has distracted attention from the issue of how to halt the decline in Britains biodiversity caused by intensive agriculture.

He reports that dozens of “superweeds” have emerged from the use of pesticides over the past decades.

But the impact of these weeds on the environment has been largely unknown because conventional agriculture has not been scrutiny.

Prof Gray Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment meets for the first time in London today.

The committee will discuss first the environmental safety of pilot trials of genetically-modified (GM) strawberries and oilseed rape.

In The Guardian, however, another academic takes a contrary view.

Brian Wynne, professor of science studies at Lancaster University, argues that the issue of GM crops is too important to leave to scientists alone.