ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
Date:  12 March 2001


Organic farms at risk from new GM trial sites - 9 March 2001

The Soil Association has identified five organic farms which  lie within  a  6  km  radius  of  the government's recently announced spring GM trial sites.  These organic  farms  therefore  run  the
risk  of  having the organic status for crops and land removed if GM contamination occurs.  A risk assessment  will  be  undertaken based  on  exact  distances,  the type of crops grown both on the
organic farm and at the trial site,  predominant  wind  direction and topography.

Baroness Hayman stated that the recommended government separation distances  of  80  -  100m  should  ensure that any contamination should not exceed 1 per cent and would generally  be  well  below this  level.  However,  the Soil Association says that separation distances of 3-6km are required (depending on the  crop)  in  the light  of independent research carried out by the National Pollen Research Unit (NPRU).

The Soil  Association  believes  that  the trial  sites  could  lead  to  widespread GM contamination of the countryside which will be impossible to recall.

The  government  appears  to  have  ignored   other   independent scientific evidence in drawing up voluntary guidelines.  Nor have they  taken  heed  of  the  practical example of the contaminated
consignment of  Advanta oilseed rape seed from Canada  last  year where  separation  distances of 4000m between GM and non-GM crops still  resulted  in  contamination.    The   seed   was   planted extensively  in  Europe  but  the  resulting plants destoyed (May 2000).

The Soil Association opposes the current UK trial  sites  because it  considers  there to be a serious lack of scientific knowledge of the processes of genetic modification and indeed the potential implications to health and the environment.  The government  must start making its decisions on genetic engineering on the basis of science,  not  industry  opinion  otherwise they are in danger of creating yet another agricultural crisis.


Contact Michele Burton
Soil Association
Campaigns Officer
Tel : 0117 987 4562
E-mail :

Soil Association
Bristol House, 40-56 Victoria Street, Bristol BS1 6BY
Tel : 0117 929 0661
Fax : 0117 925 2504
E-mail :

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