1 June 2000
Al-Fayed to help farmers sue Advanta
by FWi staff
FLAMBOYANT Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed has offered to help pay the legal costs of farmers who unwittingly planted genetically modified crops.
Mr al-Fayed made the gesture after it emerged that (22 hectares) 55 acres of contaminated GM oilseed rape seed had been planted on his Scottish estate.
Scottish National Farmers Union president Jim Walker confirmed to the BBC that Mr Al Fayed had offered to help.
Mr Walker said the Harrods boss had offered to contribute towards the unions legal costs for any court action for compensation.
Mr Al Fayed also said he was prepared to meet officials to discuss support for other aspects of the unions campaign
Mr Walker said: “Mr Al-Fayed has offered any help in the future that we may require, including financial help, if we have to take a court case out against a third party for this whole debacle.”
The GM the oilseed rape is still growing on the Balnagowan estate but was expected to be ploughed in.
Up to 600 British farmers unwittingly planted GM oilseed rape after seed supplier Advanta mixed conventional with GM varieties.
Mr Walker has accused farm minister Nick Brown of dithering and incompetence over he issue.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports that GM crops on trial in Britain are to be tested for “rogue” genetic material.
This follows an admission by biotechnology company Monsanto that some of its genetically modified products contain unexpected gene fragments.
Inactive material was inserted into soya at the same time as a gene which ensures the seed is not killed by weedkiller.
The Mail says Monsanto has trialled sugar beet in Britain which contains the same gene.
Monsanto and the British government insist the soya beans are no more risky to human health than conventional varieties.
Anti-GM campaigners say this proves GM science is flawed.