18 May 2000
What the papers say
NEWS that farmers have unwittingly planted oil seed rape contaminated with genetically modified seed makes the front pages in many of the Thursday (18 May) newspapers.
The Guardian says that thousands of acres of crops have been growing in Britain for more than a year.
It claims this is “highly embarrassing for scientific advisors who had claimed there was little risk of cross-pollination with conventional crops”.
The newspaper claims the plants on the Canadian Prairies the seed came from picked up GM material despite growing 800m from the nearest GM varieties.
In its front-page story The Times says that up to 600 farmers bought the contaminated seed.
It reports there was fury from anti-GM campaigners and opposition politicians when it was revealed the government “sat” on the news for a month and “sneaked” it out in a parliamentary written answer”
The Daily Telegraph, which also gives the story front page prominence, says that oil crushed from the seed ahas already entered the food chain, in oil chocolate, and possibly cattle feed.
It warns: “Pollen from these crops will have spread throughout the countryside with unknown results.”
The Independent in a front-page story claims the governments policy over GM crops has been “plunged into chaos” by the revelation.
The Daily Mail takes a similar line, saying the credibility of the governments stance on GM crops has been undermined.
“The discovery makes a mockery of government promises surrounding the careful introduction of biotech foods and safeguards on the environment and human health, ” it claims.
A positive view of GM technology is provided by the The Independent in it s second section.
An article by Steve Connor argues that GM technology provides the most promising solution to world famine and its benefits cannot be overlooked.