1 June 2000
Suppport payments may follow GM destruction
FARMERS who unwittingly planted genetically modified crops may soon get permission to destroy them without jeopardising support payments, claim Scottish union representatives.
The National Farmers Union of Scotland believes the European Commission will allow farmers to destroy the crop before they flower, leave the ground fallow for the summer, and still receive Arable Aid Scheme payments.
This comes after the EC signalled an intention to pass a derogation later this month which the union expects will allow farmers to destroy affected crops before 30 June.
The NFUS described the development as a “breakthrough”, although conceded that the derogation had yet to be formalised.
“Part of the battle has been won,” said NFUS president Jim Walker.
“We have been pressing for this derogation which recognises that any crops sown now will be unlikely to yield much financial return and could jeopardise future planting plans.
Mr Walker said he believed marketing the GM crop was illegal because it was not licensed for commercial use in the UK.
He urged growers to check with the Scottish Executive or the NFUS before pursuing any alternative crop because final derogation may not allow planting until late summer/early autumn.
Advanta Seeds UK has admitted supplying up to 600 farmers with enough contaminated seed to grow up to 4700ha of GM oilseed rape this spring.
Mr Walker added that growers should contact their seed merchant to establish whether or not they have sown an affected batch.
The NFUS is still pursuing the question of compensation for the loss.
On Wednesday (31 May) Harrods owner Mohamed al-Fayed offered to help pay the legal costs of farmers affected, after it emerged some of the seed had been planted on his Scottish estate.