ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

4 May 2002


2. Five deny GM crops attack


1. Inquiry fails to find cause of GM crop contamination

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EMBARGOED:  00:01 hours Saturday 4 May

An official inquiry set up after large tracts of the British countryside were inadvertently sown with GM-contaminated oil seed rape, has completely failed to discover the source of the contamination.

In May 2000 it was discovered that hundreds of British farmers had sown thousands of acres with GM-contaminated seed imported from Canada. The GM seed  - which was also planted in a number of other European countries - was not approved by the Europe Union for release into the environment. The crops were eventually destroyed, and Advanta, the firm that sold the seed, agreed to compensate farmers.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency held an inquiry into how the GM seed came to be contaminated. It concluded that "there is no evidence of any impropriety on the part of Advanta Canada, its third party processor or the Canadian Seed Growers' Association"  and it "was unable to determine the source of the adventitious trait present in the seed lots in question. Because this issue is not considered a regulatory matter in Canada, the CFIA seed program considers it closed at this time."

Advanta has always claimed that the contamination occurred through cross-pollination.

The Canadian oil seed rape (canola) was specifically grown to produce non-GM seed. Under Canadian regulations a 800 metre separation distance must exist between GM and conventional oil seed rape. According to the Canadian Government this regulation was observed. The separation distance in the UK for GM oil seed rape grown in the GM farm scale evaluations is only 50 metres.

Pete Riley, GM campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said."Two years after thousands of acres of British countryside was planted with illegal GM crops, the authorities still don't know how it happened. What steps are the biotech industry and the governments of Canadian and the UK taking to ensure it doesn't happen again? This report is a complete whitewash."

"It is likely that this contamination was caused by cross-pollination from neighbouring GM crops. As the nearest GM crops were at least 800 metres away this raises questions over the effectiveness of separation distances between GM and conventional crops - particularly in the UK, where they are only 50 metres for oil seed rape. The whole fiasco demonstrates once again the risk these crops pose to conventional and organic farmers, and provides yet more evidence for banning GM crops from being commercially  grown in the UK."

1. The report by the Canadian Government was published on 15 February. FOE obtained a copy from the UK Government last week.  Canadian tests on the contaminated canola showed that 77% were contaminated with Monsanto's GT73. 23% had contamination levels greater than 1%. Tests were not carried out for contamination from other GM varieties.


2. Five deny GM crops attack

BBC news, Friday, 3 May, 2002, 17:06 GMT 18:06 UK

Five more anti-GM protesters have appeared in court accused of vandalising crops in the Highlands.

They have denied the charges and will go on trial at Dingwall Sheriff Court on 26 July.

The five, four men and a woman, were arrested early on Friday morning near Tullich Farm, Black Isle, which has been the target for months of sustained attacks by protesters.

The accused are Denise Copple, 48, of The Park, Findhorn, Moray; Christopher King, 42, of Lower Arboll Croft, Inver, Tain; Tjitze Jong, 44, of Findhorn Foundation, Moray; Nigel Smith, 49, of Arabella Holdings, Nigg Station; and, Christian Molnar, 52, of Mains Cottage, Burgie, Forres.

They were granted bail on the special condition they do not enter an exclusion area at the farm.

'Direct action'

A new warning has been given of further attempts to destroy the crops but the Scottish Executive has insisted it will not abandon the trial.

Speaking in parliament on Thursday, Environment Minister Ross Finnie refused to bow to the campaigners' demands.

Following the latest arrests, Dr Eleanor Scott, of the Scottish Green Party, said many people had devoted a large part of the past year to keeping the Highlands GM-free.

If the executive continued to ignore them, she said, more direct action was inevitable.

Five demonstrators appeared in the same court on Monday and admitted destroying oilseed rape GM crops at the farm.

The attack on the oilseed rape at a farm near Inverness on 26 April was the second such incident in less than a week.

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