GM firm faces 20,000 fine

17 February 1999

GM firm faces £20,000 fine

BIOTECH giant Monsanto is up in court this morning (Wednesday) charged with failing to control a trial crop of genetically modified (GM) oilseed rape.

If it is found guilty of failing to restrict the transfer of pollen from the crop, the company faces a £20,000 fine.

The accusation, which follows an investigation by environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth, relates to a trial plot in the Lincolnshire village of Rothwell.

Campaigners claimed that Monsanto contravened environmental legislation by allowing GM oilseed rape to cross-pollinate with nearby conventional plants.

The environmentalists sent detailed information supporting their case to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in London.

A routine inspection by HSE officials last summer revealed that Monsanto was breaching the safety measures required when growing the GM crop.

Monsanto is charged with a second defendant, Perryfields Holdings, with allowing a 6-metre “shelter belt” of unmodified oilseed rape to be thinned to 4m.

The shelter was to prevent seeds from the genetically modified rape escaping.

There was no evidence of damage from Monsantos crop, but the company has said it will not contest the charge.

The crop was destroyed, and the area will be monitored for two years to study any longer-term consequences.

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