30 May 2000
Union to sue over GM seeds?

THE National Farmers Union is considering taking the government and seed supplier Advanta to court on behalf of 600 producers who unwittingly planted GM crops.

At the same time, the European Commission is reported to be considering offering affected farmers extra subsidies.

These developments come after farm minister Nick Brown advised farmers to destroy the crops as they would not be able to sell them on.

But Mr Brown ruled out government compensation, instead suggesting that affected farmers could sue Advanta individually, reports BBC Online.

Now the National Farmers Union will try to recover an estimated 3 million lost through the destruction.

It has consulted its lawyers to determine whether joint legal action by the affected farmers would be likely to succeed.

The President of the NFU in Scotland, Jim Walker, accused Mr Brown of dithering and incompetence over the matter.

Meanwhile, on Sunday the European Commission signalled that it may pay affected farmers some form of indirect compensation.

This would take the form of subsidies linked to contaminated seeds, reports the Financial Times.

The contamination was discussed when EU farm ministers met for an informal summit in Portugal.

And according to the FT, the EC is also examining proposals to set a threshold for GM content in seeds.

The Daily Express reports that Mr Brown came under renewed pressure after France demanded compensation for its farmers from Advanta.

French farm minister Jean Glavany wants damages for farmers after ordering the destruction of crops grown from GM rapeseed.

In its editorial The Express says only a government-led legal assault will force Advanta to provide compensation and fund a clean up operation.

“Until Mr Brown learns how to play tough, like his cross-Channel counterparts, our farmers are always going to be losers,” it claims.