24 May 2000
Second GM seed blunder unearthed

By Johann Tasker

MAIZE contaminated with genetically modified seed has become the second crop suspected of being planted across thousands of hectares of farmland.

Maize seed containing genetically modified material up to levels of 1% was planted on up to 1 million hectares across Europe, it is alleged.

The European Seed Association send out a statement to European MEPs on 22 May, said a spokeswoman for Shadow Agriculture Minister Tim Yeo.

The statement said between 5-15% of maize seed planted in the year 2000 contained 0.01% and 0.99% GM purity, she told Farmers Weekly.

Contaminated seed had been planted on between 325,000-975,000ha across the whole of the European Union, the spokeswoman added.

The allegation follows an admission from agriculture minister Nick Brown that up to 4500ha of GM oilseed rape were unwittingly planted in Britain.

Mr Yeos spokeswoman said the shadow minister would raise both matters in the House of Commons during agricultural questions on Thursday (25 May).

She said: “This letter was sent out right in the middle of this whole GM oilseed rape matter when Nick Brown has been accused of a cover-up.”

The spokeswoman added: “He has not learned any lesson. He has received this letter and not done anything about it.”

Mr Nick Brown told MPs on Tuesday (23 May) that the oilseed rape planted by up to 600 farmers posed no threat to human health or the environment.

But Farmers Weekly has found no supermarket or crusher prepared to say that they will buy any GM-contaminated rape if it is harvested.

A spokesman for Asda said: “If any farmers supply affected ingredients to our manufacturers we will not accept their produce.”

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