HERE COMES MASSIVE CONTAMINATION... LET'S ACT!
Here comes massive contamination.... lets act.
I'm glad Farmers Guardian giving this impending disaster of the seed contamination directive some space (see below) - but I feel its crucial that folks clarify for the press/ farmers/each other exactly what these low sounding thresholds actually mean and how serious this inocuos sounding technical standard is when translated into the real world:
for example the proposed 0.5% threshold for contamination in maize means one in every 200 conventional maize plants grown next year could be GE. That amounts to 500 maize plants per hectare, thousands of GE maize plants across a single field and millions across the UK!
0.3 threshold for rape translates to 2100 GE plants per hectare - tens of thousands per field and again many millions across the UK.
- ie this is a license for HUGE environmental release and unlike field trials there will be NO monitoring, NO notification - not even the farmers growing it will be aware of what they are growing let alone neighbouring organic farms, beekeepers etc
This makes a mockery of any so called debate on commercial scale growing. It is commercial scale growing and its about to be given the go ahead in mid september.
It renders the national seed registration process for T25 pointless since for a seed to be allowed to contaminate it needs only have EU approvals (which T25 already does).
For organic farmers who are often forced to use conventional seeds because of lack of supply of organic seeds it puts them in a perilous position with regards to their GE-free status.
For conventional farmers who are expected to deliver food to most food producers and supermarkets at less than 0.1% GE contamination these contamination levels of 0.3, 0.5 and 0.7 could lose them markets
Agrinomically of course it could also be a nightmare - for example the current proposals allow about one in 330 rape seeds to be contaminated which amount to 2100 plants per hectare - in effect a farmer could have to deal with up to 20,000 herbicide tolerant rape plants ina field and all the volunteers that produces.
The EU standing committee on seeds is having a first vote to approve these outrageous thresholds in mid september - only just over 2 weeks away... and so far there is barely a whisper of protest from the anti-GE folks compared to the consistent daily lobbying that the biotech industry have been applying to have these thresholds approved.
if you do just one bit of GE campaigning in the next 2 weeks - Please contact DEFRA and urge them to reject this dangerous dirty little standard and get as many others to do so as well.. and if anyone feels like writing in response to farmers guardian, farmers weekly or any other press to point out the enormity of the contamination about to be quietly foisted on us by this unelected European committee, please do!!
if you need more info about the seed contamination directive check out www.saveourseeds.org or feel free to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org.
this is absolutely urgent
Action point: Write to DEFRA and ask them to vote for zero tolerance in the seed committee and/or ask for the directive to go before the EU parliament for proper democratic scrutiny. Send fax or e-mail to the following address by no later than 12 September 2002:
Mr Michael Miller, DEFRA, PVRO and Seeds Division
Room 22, White House Lane, Huntingdon Road,
Cambridge CB3 OLF
Fax: 01223 342386
Monsanto scale back forecasts
Farmers Guardian August 23, 2002
MONSANTO, the US-based corporation at the forefront of the drive to introduce genetically modified crops across the globe, says it feels it is losing the battle over the technology in Europe. Monsanto chief executive Hendrik Verfaillie said the corporation has been forced to revise its predictions of growth in Europe and Brazil in the face of persistent opposition to GM crops. "We are assuming no progress in Europe until 2005. We are trying to be conservative. It is better to under-promise than over deliver," he said this week. The admission will be seen as victory for anti-GM campaigners across the EU who have maintained constant pressure on Governments to abandon the technology since the EU declared a three-year moratorium on new GM crops in 1998. Green campaigners accused the UK Government this week of backing EU plans to introduce GM crops across Europe through the back door. The European Commission has issued proposals to allow conventional seeds to be contaminated with up to 0.5 per cent of GM material for maize and beet, 0.3 per cent for oilseed rape and 0.7 per cent for soya bean. The thresholds have been set so crops produced from these seeds will not contain GM content in excess of the 1 per cent labelling threshold for food and animal feed. Under the proposal, this level of contamination would not have to be declared on labels of seed bought by farmers. But seed manufacturers will be able to market seeds exceeding these thresholds as long as it is declared on the label. The Commission has not proposed an upper limit on contamination allowed in labelled seed, although it has considered a limit of 5 per cent. The proposals amending existing legislation will be subject to an initial vote next month by civil servants on an EU standing committee on seeds. This will make a final decision later this year. MEPs will not get the chance to vote on the proposals. Greenpeace said it has been told Ministers will tell DEFRA representatives on the committee to back the proposals. A spokesman said this shows the Government is backing the biotech industry by supporting moves to legalise the technology. "It will lead to GM crops being grown across the country without people knowing about it. Levels will not stay at 0.3 or 0.5 per cent for very long because of cross contamination," he said.
DEFRA is currently consulting on the proposals, although it
has only allowed six weeks instead of the normal 12 because
of the imminent Commission vote. A DEFRA spokeswoman said the
department has still not made its mind up on the proposals. "We will
look at the consultation and then make a decision," she said.
Biotech company Aventis called this week for more sensible,
enforceable' thresholds for GM contamination to be established as
soon as possible. It said 100 per cent purity will never be achieved,
after it landed itself in trouble for allowing GM oilseed rape used
in the Government's Farm Scale Evaluations to be contaminated
with nearly 3 per cent of unauthorised GM seed. Countryside
Minister Elliott Morley admitted last week that the UK Government
is coming under enormous international pressure' from the biotech
countries to adopt the technology. The Government is launching a
public debate on GM issues this autumn. DEFRA secretary Margaret
Beckett says the Government is keen to deepen understanding' of the
issues, although anti-GM campaigners have claimed it is a public
relations exercise to pave the way for commercial planting of GM
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