18 May 1998
Monsanto loses 1200ha GM trial ally
By FWi staff
A MAJOR Wiltshire farmer has pulled out of a crop trial for agro-chemical giant Monsanto after coming to the conclusion that genetically-modified (GM) crops “should not be grown in a farming situation.”
Peter Lemon, who farms 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) near Malmesbury, was asked to grow a demonstration plot of Monsantos Roundup-ready oilseed rape – a genetically modified crop bred to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate.
Mr Lemon initially agreed to Monsantos request and the trial plot was prepared. But he later changed his mind after representations from anti-GM crop campaigners such as the Soil Association and Friends of the Earth.
“Initially I thought that growing this type of rape would considerably improve the environment, as we would control all the weeds in a crop with a chemical which is totally safe to the operator and the environment,” Mr Lemon said.
“But I now believe that not enough is known about these crops, and they should not be grown in a farming situation.”
Friends of the Earth (FoE) claims that growing GM crops could release new genetic material into the environment with unforeseen effects, creating new “superweeds” with herbicide-resistant traits.
“This is a conventional farmer who, when faced with the common-sense arguments, has decided that the risks are too big and the consequences unknown,” said FoE spokesman Adrian Bebb.
Nobody at Monsanto was available for comment.