26 May 2000
MPs blame Advanta for GM fiasco
By Johann Tasker
THIRTY-THREE MPs have signed a Early Day Motion which blames Advanta Seeds for the fiasco over genetically contaminated oilseed rape.
The motion was tabled by Joan Ruddock, the Labour MP for Lewisham and Deptford, who has previously promoted a bill on organic food and farming.
It says “primary responsibility lies with the company for failing to test prior to marketing its own seed produced alongside GM crops of the same species”.
Advanta has admitted supplying up to 600 farmers with enough seed to plant as much as 15,000ha of GM-contaminated oilseed rape over the past two years.
The tabling of an Early Day Motion is used by MPs to draw attention to an issue, and elicits support by inviting other politicians to add their signatures.
The MPs say they deeply regret the potential threat to the environment and farmers livelihoods arising from the growing of the contaminated oilseed rape.
The motion notes that the GM seeds have no European licence for commercial planting and are currently being grown only under test conditions.
It welcomes the governments proposals for an international protocol on seed purity and domestic spot checks expected to start next month.
Furthermore, the motion urges the Government to investigate safe post-harvest destruction of the affected crops with compensation for farmers.
It calls on ministers to seek the advice of English Nature to ensure that any post-harvest volunteer oilseed rape plants are destroyed
The MPs believe such a move would minimise the risk of herbicide tolerant genes being passed to wild relatives of oilseed rape.
David Heath MP, who is not at the time of writing a signatory to the motion, has called for compensation for all farmers affected by GM contamination.
Mr Heath, the Lib-Dem spokesman on GM issues, made the announcement after supermarkets said they refuse to buy produce from affected farmers.
“These farmers have acted in good faith, they bought seed under the assumption that it was GM-free,” he said.
“Farmers need compensation, not condemnation by the supermarkets.”
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