GM row rages on after hints of U-turn

18 February 1999

GM row rages on after hints of U-turn

By FWi staff

THE debate on genetically modified (GM) crops makes the front pages of the papers again today (Thursday), with speculation that commercial planting will be delayed.

The Times claims government sources have admitted that this years trials could be insufficient for ministers to grant approval for commercial GM crops.

That would delay planting of the first commercial GM crops until 2001, says the newspaper, and bring the government closer to the position of English Nature.

English Nature, the governments wildlife advisors, have already recommended a three-year moratorium on planting, as has the Conservative Party.

But the multinational biotechnology companies developing the GM crops have pledged to fight any attempts to ban their products, reports The Guardian.

Zeneca, which has developed a slow-rot GM tomato, told the newspaper it would go ahead with commercial GM production next year.

Zeneca scientists have eaten the GM tomatoes for almost a decade, reports The Telegraph, even though GM tomato puree was introduced to shops only two years ago.

Earlier Monsanto, the US life sciences group at the centre of the controversy over GM crops, said it too would resist any attempt to impose a moratorium.

Tom McDermott, Monsantos senior European spokesman, said his company would challenge in Brussels any unilateral British action to ban its products.

Monsanto was fined £17,000 with £6159 costs yesterday for a breach of safety regulations at a test site for GM oilseed rape.

Magistrates at Caistor in Lincolnshire fined the company after Monsanto admitted to breaching safety regulations on a trial site of GM oilseed rape.

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