ORGANIC FARMS AT RISK FROM NEW GM TRIAL SITES
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
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