Scottish farmers caught up in the GM rape seed row have been told by a union leader not to destroy their crops until the situation is clarified.

After meeting with Scottish Executive officials, National Farmers’ Union of Scotland president Jim Walker said any wrong action taken now by growers could place them in an even worse position.

The call comes despite Scottish rural affairs minister Ross Finnie backing his Westminster counterpart Nick Brown’s advice to farmers to destroy inadvertently planted GM-contaminated seeds.

It is thought that in the last two years up to 600 farmers in Britain may have planted over 30,000 acres of oil seed rape, supplied by Canadian firm Advanta, contaminated with a GM rape seed variety which has not been approved for commercial growing in Europe.

Mr Walker said: ‘Until we have clear advice which meets all EU and UK legal requirements growers must take no action on the crop in the next few days. Any wrong course could jeopardise support payments and future production from land on which these crops are currently growing.

He continued ‘It is now clear that the statement issued by Nick Brown late last week is open to question. Destruction and replacement of the crop is not a practical option with the timescale involved. I realise the urgency of the situation as well as the totally unsatisfactory position that innocent growers currently face, but further advice will be made available after separate meetings with Ross Finnie and representatives of Advanta later this week.’

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Mr Walker added: ‘All growers of Hoyola rape must contact their seed merchants, or Advanta, with the utmost urgency, to enable them to clearly identify the affected crops.’