ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
Date:  28 February 2001


Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions News
News Release 107: 28 February 2001

Proposed spring GM crop trial sites published

Sites for the spring trials of oilseed rape and beet in the government's programme of Farm-Scale Evaluations (FSEs) of herbicide tolerant GM crops were published today. A list of the sites is attached. Details (including six-figure grid references) are available on the National Register and DETR web site,

The Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) which oversees the FSEs require a total of 60-75 sites for each of the four FSE crops (spring oilseed rape, winter oilseed rape, beet and maize) in order to obtain scientifically valid results for the three-year research programme. It was originally expected that up to 25 sites with each crop would be sown each year. But as last year
fewer than 25 oilseed rape sites were sown the SSC has asked for some increase this spring to make up the numbers. The lower overall number of beet sites results from the SSC's assessment that sugar and fodder beet can be considered the same crop. Sites for maize, sown slightly later in the year, will be announced in the week commencing 26 March.

Therefore there is no increase at all in the number of sites over the original number of sites originally announced.

Depending on weather and soil conditions, sowing of oilseed rape might start from mid to late March through April, of beet from the end of March through April and of maize from the end of April through May.

All the seeds in the trials have been through years of rigorous safety tests. The trials are designed to investigate if there are any effects on wildlife of the farming practices associated with the particular GM crops in the study.

The government believes that it is important for the public to be aware of what is happening in their neighbourhoods and why.

It has, therefore, agreed with industry to increase the notification period to up to six weeks in order to give people more time to find out about the FSEs in their area. Detailed information on the FSE programme is being sent by DETR to parish councils and local authorities in host areas today and
local newspaper advertisements will appear in the next ten days with more information.

Environment Minister Michael Meacher said:

"The purpose of these trials is to provide systematic answers to the question as to whether the planting of herbicide tolerant GM crops, and the use of weedkillers associated with them, will cause any detriment to wildlife. They are not about the safety of GM technology. All the evidence
collected will be sifted by an independent Scientific Steering Committee, and the results made public at the end of the trials so that they can be peer-reviewed and fully examined by any member of the public."

Notes to editors
The table below includes 26 beet sites and 27 spring sown oilseed rape in England. Details of the sites in Scotland are available on the Scottish Executive website at

Fodder Beet
6 Figure Grid Reference Nearest Village County
NX 967 137  Rottington  Cumbria
SE 630 035 Armthorpe South Yorkshire
NZ 127 133 Hutton Magna Durham
SO 711 171 Blaisdon Gloucestershire
SO 854 227 Twigworth Gloucestershire
SO 558 484 Preston Wynne Herefordshire
TL 110 129 Redbourn Hertfordshire
TF 233 878 Burgh on Bain Lincolnshire
SE 195 840 High Ellington North Yorkshire
SE 650 844 Beadlam North Yorkshire
SJ 603 215 Ellerdine Shropshire

Sugar Beet
6 Figure Grid Reference Nearest Village County
TF 407 061  Wisbech St Mary  Cambridgeshire
TL 318 904 Benwick Cambridgeshire
SK 974 455 Sudbrook Lincolnshire
TF 185 410 Little Hale Lincolnshire
TF 237 894 Kelstern Lincolnshire
TF 356 096 Throckenholt Lincolnshire
TF 828 408 Burnham Market Norfolk
TF 842 248 West Raynham Norfolk
TF 886 273 Toftrees Norfolk
TF 950 086 Bradenham Norfolk
TG 374 133 Pilson Green Norfolk
TM 065 898 Banham Norfolk
SK 594 697 Meden Vale Nottinghamshire
TL 760 658 Higham Suffolk
SO 851 745 Spennells, Kidderminster Worcestershire

Oil Seed Rape
6 Figure Grid Reference  Nearest Village County
SY 690 836  Bincombe  Dorset
NZ 136 107 Hutton Magna Durham
NZ 193 370 Oakenshaw Durham
SE 755 312 Brind East Riding Of Yorkshire
TA 016 599 Little Driffield East Riding of Yorkshire
TA 265 378 Aldborough East Riding of Yorkshire
TQ 525 168 East Hoathly East Sussex
SP 052 373 Aston Somerville Gloucestershire
SP 055 360 Wormington Gloucestershire
SP 152 403 Chipping Campden Gloucestershire
TL 066 114 Piccotts End Hertfordshire
TQ 887 393 High Halden Kent
SK 755 134 Great Dalby Leicestershire
SK 957 909 Hemswell Cliff Lincolnshire
TA 018 002 North Kelsey Lincolnshire
TF 043 173 Witham on the Hill Lincolnshire
TF 200 993 Thornganby Lincolnshire
TF 203 969 Thornganby Lincolnshire
TF 233 892 Kelstern Lincolnshire
TF 852 238 Weasenham St Peter Norfolk
TF 942 248 Horningtoft and Gateley Norfolk
TM 065 895 Banham Norfolk
TM 102 873 Winfarthing Norfolk
SE 778 018 Low Burnham North Lincolnshire
SK 599 705 Meden Vale Nottinghamshire
SJ 410 266 Bagley Shropshire
SJ 573 384 Ash Magna Shropshire

Applications have been received from Aventis and Monsanto. These are to release oilseed rape modified to be tolerant to glufosinate ammonium herbicide and beet modified to have tolerance to glyphosate herbicide, both of which are widely used in agriculture but not for the equivalent
conventional crops.

Locations of the Farm-Scale Evaluation sites (six-figure grid references) are published on the DETR web site - The government
will write to all parish councils in whose areas the sites are to be located to explain the nature and the purpose of the FSEs. Beet and oilseed rape sites are authorised under research consents which means that the growers must also advertise their location in local newspapers not more than ten
days after notifying DETR of where they will be grown and before the seeds are sown.

The Farm-Scale Evaluations are a three-year programme allowing independent researchers to study the effect, if any, that the management practices associated with Genetically Modified Herbicide Tolerant (GMHT) crops might have on farmland wildlife, when compared with those used with non-GM crops.  Researchers are studying differences in the number and types of weeds and insects (including bees and butterflies) in GM and non-GM halves of the
trial sites.

Four crops are involved: oilseed rape (both spring and autumn sown); beet (fodder and sugar varieties); and maize. The project will involve a maximum of between 60 and 75 fields of each crop type. The FSE programme includes a project to monitor gene-flow, including cross-pollination.

The Scientific Steering Committee has endorsed the contractors' scientific opinion based on data collected in 2000 that, for the purposes of this study, fodder beet and sugar beet can be considered the same crop. 60-75 beet fields of either variety would be sufficient to meet the original aims and objectives of the research. As 24 beet fields were included in the study
in 2000, 26 fields are to be included in this year's sowing and a further 25
fields in the final year.

At the end of the programme in 2002/2003 results will be reported, made publicly available and considered by the government. Under an agreement between government and industry, there will be no commercial growing of GM crops in the UK until the end of the FSEs and only then if the crops are assessed as causing no unacceptable effects on the environment.

The FSEs are overseen by an independent Scientific Steering Committee (SSC), which includes chairman Professor Chris Pollock (Institute of Grassland & Environmental Research) and experts from academia and conservation organisations. The research is carried out by a consortium of research institutions - the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the Scottish Crops Research Institute and the Institute of Arable Crops Research.

Researchers have investigated so far the effects on wildlife of the herbicide management associated with GMHT crops at 12 maize, 12 spring sown oilseed rape, 23 autumn sown rape and 24 beet sites. The SSC has decided that 32 maize, 32 spring sown oilseed rape and 26 beet sites should be included in the spring 2001 planting round. There has been no increase in the planned total number of sites over the three years.

Media enquiries 020 7944 3041; Out of hours: 020 7944 5925 or 5945
Public Enquiries Unit 020 7944 3000
Web site

*  *  *
The Highland Council and others will be pleased.  Here are the locations of the 5 Scottish sites (two of which are on a single farm) where it is proposed to plant spring oilseed rape as part of the farmscale trial evaluations. The details are as follows:-

Location Nearest village Grid Reference

Nairn, Highland Auldearn NH 901 536

Smithton, Highland Smithton NH 702 458

Daviot, Aberdeenshire Daviot NJ 750 295

Daviot, Aberdeenshire Daviot NJ 772 283

Daviot, Aberdeenshire Daviot NJ 740 288


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