ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

3 December 2001


1. Massive GM contamination found in Lincolnshire fields


1. Illegal GM weeds - Massive GM contamination found in Lincolnshire fields

The Gaia Trust
Working towards a healthy and sustainable world through education, encouragement and example

Press Release
Friday, 30th November, 2001

Lincolnshire has had more GM crop experiments than any other area in the country — and it could be that the Lincolnshire farming industry is now going to face a new crisis as GM contamination is found in volunteer oilseed rape plants.

The volunteer rape plants, which, due to the erratic weather, are already in flower, have been found at a site that has been used for the GM Farm Scale Evaluations at Witham-on-the-Hill, near Grantham, (grid reference TF 043 173)

Aventis, the biotech company responsible for the supply of these seeds has dramatically failed its legal responsibilities by allowing these weeds to reach the flowering stage.  The site should have been carefully monitored and the weeds removed before flowering began.  It is now possible that there is substantial GM contamination in both non GM rape and wild brassicas — a possible disaster for an agricultural county such as Lincolnshire.

The Lincolnshire farming industry is now in serious jeopardy — especially if this contamination has occurred on other sites that are not in public view.  More and more companies are demanding GM free produce - they are providing what their customers demand and are avoiding GM crops  like the plague - where does this leave our farmers? It is very likely that Lincolnshire produce will now be seen to have been contaminated with GM and avoided at all costs. Neither will it be just our farmers who suffer if this happens - but all the related farming industries and the local communities who depend on them for employment.

This is not a minor breach of regulations but one of such major proportions that we have tonight  called upon the Government to ensure immediate destruction of these weeds  and to prosecute Aventis for this absolute negligence of their legal obligations. By blatantly allowing this contamination to happen Aventis have proved themselves to have utter disregard for the future of Lincolnshire agriculture, a county whose farmland is the best in the world. In addition we demand that immediate steps are taken to ensure that Aventis are not allowed to grow any more GM crops in this county, and that they are made to accept the legal and financial burden of clearing the contamination from our fields, including paying substantial compensation to our farmers for any loss of GM free status.

We are aware that Aventis are saying that it is not flowering rape in the field - but charlock - however there is photographic evidence to the contrary.  For photos of THE ILLEGAL GM OILSEED RAPE  contact  GUZILIAN PRESS
TEL:  EMMA ON 01274 532 300

We are asking that the NFU support us in our demands and will be consulting with the County and District Councils on this matter.

For further information
Kate O'Connell
The Gaia Trust
Tel/fax 01507 490112



Or was seed for the GM part of the trial sown too deep reducing crop vigour and encouraging weed growth (which would give a favourable biodiversity trial result)?


For immediate release Thursday 29 November 2001


Scottish Green Party MSP Robin Harper has personally confirmed that genetically modified oil-seed rape growing at a trial site in Scotland is severely stunted. This contrasts to the normal, non-GM oilseed rape it is being compared to in the trial [1]. The discovery may have consequences for GM oil-seed rape trials throughout the UK.

Initial fears that the GM oil-seed rape is exhibiting strange and unexpected behaviour have today (Thursday) been denied by the company running the trial, Aventis. The biotechnology giant says, in an article in The Highland News [2], that the difference in growth is because the GM and non-GM plants being compared are based on different natural varieties.

However, the Greens have pointed out that if different varieties have been grown, the field trial is likely to be invalidated. There is no way of knowing whether differences between GM and non-GM plant behaviour are being caused by the genetic modification or simply due to differences between varieties. Robin Harper is to demand answers in Parliament over the matter [3].

Robin Harper MSP said; "The trial is intended to find out whether the GM oil-seed rape plants have an effect on biodiversity compared with non-GM plants. But if Aventis have used a different variety as a comparison, we won't know whether any differences are because of the GM modification or because of the natural difference between the varieties. The trial would be invalidated.

"It was clear to me when I visited the site that compared to the stunted GM plants, the taller non-GM plants are forming a thicker canopy and are preventing as much light reaching the ground underneath. Because of this they are likely to be preventing as many weeds from growing or insects from thriving compared to the GM crop. When the test measurements are taken to compare biodiversity, they might find more weeds and insects in the GM crop but that would not be because the GM modification has led to more biodiversity, it's because the GM plants are based on a variety that grows at a different rate. This is basic science, unless you compare like with like, trial results will be irrelevant.

"If instead it turns out the GM crop is stunted because of the genetic engineering, then the crop must be ploughed in immediately. The crop was engineered to be resistant to a chemical, not to grow at a different rate. Something odd could be happening because of the genetic modification and this shows the instability and unpredictability of this technology. If the genetic modification has caused a change in growth rate, we don't know what else it might have changed in the plant.

"The GM vigil at Munlochy has proved its worth. This is the first time anyone has closely observed a trail, and it looks like they've discovered something very significant and disturbing.

"This strange phenomenon certainly calls the trial into question and possibly all the other trials in Britain. Either the genetic modification has affected plant growth in some strange and unpredictable way and stunted the crop, or the trial is not properly designed and is not comparing like with like and if so will not answer the questions of safety."

CONTACT:  Robin Harper MSP 0131 348 5927 or 07957 337 176
Steve Burgess 0131 348 5955 or 07887 682 574

1. Robin Harper has visited the trial of genetically modified oil seed rape at Roskil Farm near Munlochy on the Black Isle and has confirmed them to be about one-fifth to one-quarter the size of the control crop. Photographs are available in electronic format from his office.



[Scottish National Party]

Immediate Release  Thursday 29 November 2001

Attn:    News Desks, Political Correspondents

Fiona McLeod MSP SNP West of Scotland
Shadow Depute Minister for the Environment

Ross Finnie must act now to reverse his decision to test GM crops at Munlochy and anywhere else in Scotland.

Fiona McLeod MSP, SNP West of Scotland, Shadow Depute Minister for the Environment, today lodged a motion congratulating Highland Council on granting planning permission for Munlochy GM protest site. Ms McLeod further calls on the Scottish Executive to ban GMOs in light of the new legislation passed by the Mexican Government following reports that their current crops have been cross contaminated by GM crops planted in Mexico before they were banned 8 years ago.

Ms McLeod said:

"I congratulate Highland Council in recognising the importance of the Munlochy protest. The Mexican Government has recognised the harmful effects GMOs have had on their environment; they have acted on evidence that cross-contamination from crops banned 8 years ago are still having a direct effect on current crops."

The SNP are calling for a moratorium on GM field trials in Scotland. Ross Finnie must act now to reverse his decision to test GM crops at Munlochy and anywhere else in Scotland.

Further details:
Gillian Renwick, Parliamentary Assistant to Fiona McLeod MSP
Tel: 0131 348 5669
Fiona McLeod MSP Tel: 0131 348 5670

MOTION: Munlochy GM Field Trials

That the Parliament recognises the Mexican Government’s ban on all genetically modified material, is distressed that cross-contaminated from GM crops banned 8 years ago are having a direct effect on current crops, realises the only answer is a moratorium on GM field trials and calls on the Scottish Executive to reverse its decision to carry out field trials at Munlochy and other Scottish sites.

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