UK: Scimac pulls plug on Wolston GM maize trial
One of the most high-profile arguments yet in the UK's long running GM saga has finally come to an end, as the biotechnology industry conceded to a tide of governmental and anti-GM pressure, and agreed to move the site of its latest GM maize trial. The proposed site was only 3km from Henry Doubleday Research Association and campaigners claimed that cross-pollination from the GM trial would ruin the status of the association's home at Ryton Organic Gardens, Europe's largest organic centre and seed bank.
Despite arguing for some time that the chances of cross-pollination were virtually none, the industry umbrella group that is governing the trials, Scimac, told environmental minister Michael Meacher yesterday that the plans to plant at Wolston, Warwickshire, had been scrapped. Roger Turner, chairman of Scimac, explained to Meacher that the decision was "in direct response to your request that Scimac consider withdrawing the site, based on concerns that the problem surrounding this particular trial was particularly damaging to public confidence."
Meacher responded by saying: "I am extremely pleased with this decision, which I think is very sensible, because of the work and indeed the uniqueness of the HDRA."
"[It is] a very fair and sensible conclusion to what's been a troublesome issue," he added.
Another high-profile objector to the site was Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association. Holden also welcomed Scimac's decision yesterday, describing it as "a victory for common-sense."
Just a few days ago, Scimac seemed determined to go ahead with the Wolston trial, but in doing so it risked jeopardising the entire GM crop programme, which began in 1999 under the agreement that GM seeds would not be commercially released until their impact had been fully assessed. Last week, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, an important ally in the trials, threatened to sever its links with the entire GM programme over the Wolston issue.
Scimac reiterated that all other trials would go ahead as planned.
Companies: Soil Association
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