09 June 1999
Number of GM sites fall by half
The number of trial sites of genetically modified (GM) crops in Britain has halved since last year.
Monitoring by The Independentof the Department of the Environments register found only 148 sites compared with 309 in last year.
Some environment activist groups claim this is because farmers have been disappointed by yields of the modified crops and their low marketability.
But Monsanto and AgrEvo, who sponsored half of the registered trial sites last year, said the reason was that their programme of testing was almost complete.
The newspaper reports that farmers are reluctant to help out biotechnology companies who are seeking producers to conduct trials of winter-sown oilseed rape.
Two farmers have recently declared they are pulling out of GM trials.
The first a farmer to embark on a large-scale GM trial destroyed his crop of herbicide resistant oilseed rape on the orders of his farms trustees this week.
The trustees had faced the risk of losing the income from their adjacent organic farming fields amid fears of GM contamination.
In another case, Robert Kenyon, who owns a farm near Arborfield, Berkshire, withdrew permission for his tenant farmer to plant of a trial site of GM forage maize.