07 May 1998
Organic farmer may sue over neighbours GM crop
By FWi staff
AN ORGANIC farmer near Totnes in Devon is threatening legal action against his neighbour to prevent him from planting weed-killer resistant genetically modified maize.
The test site is close to where the organic farmer wants to plant sweetcorn. The two crops could cross-pollinate.
The Soil Association has warned the organic farmer Guy Watson that he could lose his organic status.
Mr Watson was told that if he proceeds with the planting, his crop would have to be monitored over the coming months. The association said it reserves the right to “withdraw certification from the crop” if there was any hint of cross-pollination.
Pete Riley, Friends of the Earth (FoE) biotechnology campaigner, said the threat to the organic farmers livelihood was just another example of the dangers of planting GM crops.
“This could be only the first case of many. The Government must call a halt now to the planting of these Frankenstein foods, at least until a proper debate can take place about their impact on the environment,” he said.
There are 332 current test sites throughout the UK, with up to 70% of the sites controlled by four companies, Monsanto (110), AgrEvo/PGS (71), Novartis/Hilleshog (26) and Sharpes International Seeds Ltd (24). About 76% of the sites are used to grow herbicide resistant crops.
According to FoE, neighbouring farmers and local residents have little chance to object to test sites, with the Department of Environment Transport and Regions approving every application across its desk since 1993.