30 September 1998
UK seed registration is a fiasco — Rooker
By Jonathan Riley
JUNIOR farm minister Jeff Rooker has criticised the UK seed registration process as a fiasco that is hampering the development of genetically modified (GM) crops.
The seed registration process was first thrown into turmoil earlier this summer when a High Court judge ruled that many seed trials – including those for GM crops – were illegal.
Mr Rooker said yesterday it was now evident that the administration procedure for approving new seed varieties had totally collapsed sometime in the mid-1990s.
“We are still consulting with lawyers on how best to sort out the mess,” Mr Rooker told delegates at a fringe meeting at the Labour Party Conference in Blackpool.
Mr Rooker warned that biotech companies would be unable to use the collapse of the seed registration system to gain fast-track approval for GM crops.
“The approval process will be founded on the best science and solid legal grounds in case there is some recourse in the future and take account of consumer concern,” he said.
Judge Mr Justice Jowitt ruled in July that many seed trials had gone ahead without regard for the Seeds Regulations Act of 1982 and the Environmental Protection Act of 1990.
The law states that data from two years of trials must be submitted to the Government before seeds can be included on the national seeds list.
But Mr Justice Jowitt said that many seed trial results during the past three years had been submitted wrongly.