3 December 2001
‘GM weeds’ prompt call for ban
By Alistair Driver
GREEN activists are calling on the government to halt genetically modified crop trials, claiming that GM weeds are growing illegally in Lincolnshire.
Friends of the Earth is demanding that the government prosecutes Aventis, a biotechnology company it says manufactured the crop that produced the weeds.
The controversy surrounds oilseed rape plants, known as “volunteers”, that have grown from seeds that spilled on to the field at harvest time.
The field, at Witham-on-the-Hill, near Grantham, was used in the governments GM farm scale evaluations.
Volunteer weeds, already in flower, are illegal and may contaminate non-GM oilseed rape plants and other wild plants, claims FoE.
It claims that the biotech company Aventis is legally responsible for ensuring that the weeds do not survive to the flowering stage.
“The biotech industry has gone too far, too fast and is now out of control,” said Pete Riley, GM campaigner at Friends of the Earth said.
“Its time the government said enough is enough and called an immediate halt to this dangerous experiment.
“It must also prosecute Aventis for breaking the law.”
An Aventis spokesman insisted the company was not breaking any rules.
“In our opinion there is non-compliance issue whatsoever,” he said.
“But we are not taking the complaint lightly and we are investigating the issue with government officials,” he said.
He said the rules say the plants do not have to be destroyed until the new year.
Growers of GM crops are actually encouraged to let volunteer plants flower so they are easier to identify and destroy, the spokesman added.