‘Field trials are no basis for [GM] commercialisation'(1)

Following the publication on Monday 10 September of a review by the Government’s advisory body for the farm scale trials of GM crops, Greenpeace today renewed its call for the programme to be cancelled. The report identifies gaps in scientific research as well as political, ethical and commercial issues which need to be resolved before the commercial growing of GM crops in Britain should begin.

The report by the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission entitled ‘Crops on trial’ makes ten recommendations including: a wider debate on GM crops regarding the ethics of genetic modification; preserving the ability of organic growers to retain their organic status; preserving consumer choice for food free from GM contamination including organic foods; identifying adequate separation distances between GM crops and non GM crops.

Dr Doug Parr, Chief Scientific Advisor Greenpeace, said
“We’ve always felt that these trials were a fig leaf to cover the Government’s embarrassment at having failed to be in tune with legitimate public concerns. The AEBC report points out that there are unanswered questions about ethics, risk and uncertainties, agricultural policy, the effects on organic farming, consumers right to choose and the social and economic impacts associated with potential commercialisation of CM crops. If the Government wants to show that it isn’t in the pocket of the biotech giants it needs to hold this wide debate and stop the farm-scale trials programme “

Editors notes:

(1) Paragraph 25 of the report says ‘Whilst the FSE (Farm Scale Evaluations) are expected to produce useful data which can contribute to the decision about weather or not the crops involved should be commercialised, we are clear that they are not a sufficient condition for reaching those decisions’.