A week after Friends of the Earth reported the presence of GM oilseed rape ‘weeds’ on a Lincolnshire Farm Scale Trial site, biotech company Aventis has finally taken action.  The weeds – which were flowering – have now been destroyed.

FOE wrote to Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State at the Department of Environment, Food and Regional Affairs (DEFRA) on the morning of Friday 30th  November informing her of the presence of the GM weeds at the Witham-on-the Hill farm scale trial site. The Government’s GM Inspectorate delayed visiting the site until Monday 3rd  December.  It reported to DEFRA on Tuesday who ordered Aventis to destroy the weeds on Wednesday 5th  December.

DEFRA should shortly receive a report on the incident.  It will then have to consider whether or not to prosecute Aventis for breaching the conditions of their GM release consent.

FOE investigation in the area revealed that a wild relative of oilseed rape(Charlock) and the presence of oilseed rape volunteers in fields in the area.  Local beekeepers have reported that honey bees have been active during the period the GM oilseed has been flowering.

Pete Riley Real Food and Farming Campaigner for FOE:

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“It’s extraordinary that it’s taken the Government and GM company seven days to make this field safe.  Quite obviously these sites have not been properly monitored by Aventis, even though it is legally responsible.  If it hadn’t been for the alert behaviour of a local farmer and Friends of the Earth these GM weeds would still be polluting the local environment.The Government must now show how seriously it views this incident by prosecuting Aventis.”