GUARDIAN ON CHARDON LL SEED LISTING
1 Shortfall a setback to GM crop testing - John
2. Kiss of Death for GM Seed - FoE (incl. MAFF press release)
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1. Shortfall a setback to GM crop testing - John Vidal
The Guardian, 1 November 2000
The likelihood of British farmers growing GM crops commercially in the near future receded last night after it emerged that the variety which is top of the list has not been tested to EU standards.
New information, passed yesterday to the Ministry of Agriculture from the French government, states that Chardon LL, a GM cattle feed maize, was tested in France for only one year, instead of the two required under EU law.
This leaves in deep confusion a continuing £500,000 public inquiry into whether Chardon LL seeds should be sold in Britain, and potentially puts back the first commercial growing of GM crops by at least a year.
The Ministry of Agriculture last night said it was consulting its lawyers. "We need to take advice as a matter of urgency on the implications of the new information and whether this has any impact on the hearings," a spokeswoman said. She declined to speculate on how long this might take.
The ministry said that the data on the herbicide-tolerant crop from French trials were based on one year's data from accredited breeders' trials and one year's data from government-run trials.
The ministry is also seeking further information from the French authorities and is consulting the European commission.
"Chardon LL will only be added to the UK national list if all the legal requirements have been fully met", the spokeswoman said.
National listing is a requirement of EC directives, aimed at ensuring that only seed meeting minimum quality standards is sold to farmers.
Friends of the Earth's legal adviser, Peter Roderick, said last night: "This fiasco has only come to light because members of the public forced the government to hold public hearings on this GFM seed. Only a week after the BSE report was published, we now find that the minimum official testing of this crop has not taken place. If the hearing had not happened, this vital information would never have come to light and the crop would have been given official approval.
"This is yet another humiliating blow to the biotech industry and
theirbackers in government."
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2. Kiss of deathh for GM seed - Friends of the Earth press release - 31 October 2000
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Government plans to allow GM maize, Chardon LL, to be added to the national seed list - the final legal barrier before a seed can be commercially grown - hit the rocks tonight when the Ministry of Agriculture admitted that basic test data submitted by the company may not meet minimum legal requirements. (MAFF release 380/00)
Peter Roderick commented: "This fiasco has
only come to light because Friends of the Earth and ordinary members of
the public forced the Government to hold a public hearing on the listing
of this GM seed. Only a week after the BSE report was published, we now
find that the minimum official testing of this crop has simply not taken
place. If the hearing had not happened, this vital information would never
have come to light and the crop would have been given official approval.
This is yet another humiliating blow to the biotech industry and their
backers in Government."
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MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES & FOOD (380/00)
Press Release 31 October 2000
NATIONAL LISTING OF CHARDON LL
UK Ministers are urgently assessing new information relating to the proposed National Listing of Chardon LL a herbicide tolerant GM maize variety.
The Government has learned from the French Authorities that the data from French trials on varietal distinctness, uniformity and stability (DUS), which supported the Chardon application for National Listing in the UK, were based on 1 year's data from accredited breeders' trials and 1 year's data from Government run trials. This is apparently one of the procedures allowed by the French authorities for DUS trials of new maize varieties. The relevant Directive (72/180/EEC) requires two years of official trials.
Ministers are taking urgent legal advice on the implications of this information and about the possible impact on the current hearing in relation to the proposal to add Chardon LL to the UK National List. MAFF is seeking further information from the French authorities and consulting the European Commission about the implications for National Listing decisions across the EU.
Chardon LL will only be added to the UK National List if all the legal requirements have been fully met.
Notes for Editors
1. Chardon LL is a genetically modified forage maize.
2. Mr Alun Alesbury is currently conducting a hearing to receive representations in relation to the Ministers' proposal to add Chardon LL to the UK National List.
3. National Listing is a requirement of EC Directives, aimed at ensuring that only seed meeting certain minimum quality standards is sold to farmers. Statutory tests and trials are required to show that varieties are distinct, uniform and stable and, for agricultural species, have a value for cultivation and use (VCU). Broadly speaking, new varieties must show an improved performance over varieties already on the National List. It is an offence to sell seed unless the variety is included in the UK National Lists or the EC Common Catalogue (an amalgam of Member States' National Lists).
4. The DUS trials for Chardon LL were carried out by the French authorities under bilateral arrangements. Such arrangements permit member states to take advantage of the particular expertise of other member states in DUS testing for certain crop types. However, VCU trials must be carried out in the Member State in which a National Listing application is made. The VCU trials for Chardon LL were carried out in the UK.
5. The National List system does not itself address the safety of GM
traits. Those aspects are addressed under GM and Novel Foods legislation.
Chardon LL has a part C marketing consent under Directive 90/220/EEC which
was agreed at EU level by Member States after careful consideration by
their expert advisory committees. It also has approval under the Novel