All-year insect threat

6 November 1998

All-year insect threat

POTENTIAL risks of growing genetically modified crops have been set out during an open meeting at the House of Commons.

At the meeting, organised by the organic promotion body the Soil Association, Graham Wynne, chief executive of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said current practice meant crops were treated with pesticides periodically, allowing insect populations to survive and recover in pockets.

But plants engineered to produce their own insecticides killed off insects all year round and removed that particular pest from the field completely.

In addition, he said herbicide tolerant plants would allow the blanket spraying of fields, clearing the land of certain plant species.

"The wildlife that depends on the survival of these species will no longer have a food supply. It is this same production-led policy in agriculture that has added to a dramatic decline in bird species and will lead to local extinction of certain species.

GMs were nothing more than a continuation of that production-led policy, said Mr Wynne.

Speaking after the meeting, organic farmer Helen Browning said: "If we continue to chase yields, the supply of grain will increase, the grain mountains will grow and prices will fall to a level where we are back at square one." &#42

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