FOR IMMEDIATE USE 13th January 2003
GeneWatch UK response to ACRE advice on farm-scale evaluations of GM herbicide-tolerant crops
Today, the Government's scientific advisors on GM crops confirmed that if GM herbicide tolerant oilseed rape or sugar beet were grown commercially in Britain, farmland wildlife is likely to suffer (1).
"It is quite clear that if we grow GM herbicide tolerant oilseed rape and sugar beet in Britain our farmland wildlife will be put under greater threat" said Dr Sue Mayer, GeneWatch UK's Director. "Before the results of these trials were in, the biotech companies had applied to grow these crops in Europe. They should now withdraw those applications and not proceed with such a damaging application of the technology. If they go ahead it will show how little respect they have for the environment".
ACRE said the GM herbicide tolerant maize used with the herbicide, Liberty, was less harmful to wildlife than if maize is grown conventionally - when atrazine is usually used. However, atrazine is to be withdrawn from the market, making the findings difficult to interpret.
"There should be no rush to commercialise GM maize until further consideration of how the maize would be grown in practice. In North America, farmers have had to use the a combination of chemicals with the GM maize to get adequate weed control. Given the difficult position of our farmland wildlife we have to be careful" said Dr Mayer.
Please contacts Sue Mayer on 01298 871898 (office); 07930 308807 (mobile).
Notes to Editors
- The Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment's (ACRE) advice to Government on the findings of the FSEs is available on: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/gm/index.htm
- Applications to market GM herbicide tolerant GM oilseed rape and sugar beet in Europe are being considered in Belgium, Denmark and Germany. These applications have been made by Bayer Crop Science, Syngenta and Monsanto. See: http://gmoinfo.jrc.it/default.asp