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April 2004

GM Maize Abandoned

OSR
Bayer Crop-Science, the biotech company producing, no longer plans to bring its GM maize, Chardon LL, into commercial production. Further delays to the possible planting of the crop means that Bayer feel that it would no longer be economically viable. Bayer are looking to develop a GM winter oilseed rape.

A number of environmental groups welcomed the decision by Bayer. They also expressed the hope that future testing of GM crops would take account of the need for proper controls before they enter the countryside.

The Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) has published new guidance on the monitoring of GM crops. Future monitoring of GM crops will include looking for unanticipated adverse effects as a new compulsory condition of approval. Each plan will also be specific to the GM variety being tested.

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Burning Issues 2002
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2003
GM statement (DEFRA website)

Previous GM article

Burning Issues 2004

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Food for Thought 2002
and
2003

November 2004

More GM Applications Abandoned

NEW
PRESS RELEASE from 'Five Year Freeze'

GM seeds - and then there were none

The Five Year Freeze warmly welcomed the news that the two remaining applications to place GM seeds on the UK's "national seed list" were withdrawn by Bayer CropScience on 9th November. There are now currently no GM varieties awaiting seed listing approval down from a high point of 53 in 1997/98 none of which gained approval.

One variety is a spring oilseed rape and the other is a winter oilseed rape both are modified to be tolerant to Bayer's herbicide Liberty (glufosinate ammonium). The applications were first made in December 1997 when the company fully expected the first GM varieties to be given the go ahead soon afterwards. However, fierce public opposition to GM crops based on concerns about significant gaps in scientific knowledge of food safety and environmental impact delayed final commercial approvals. Strong criticism of the herbicide tolerant crops came from English Nature who were concerned that these crops could harm to farmland wildlife by reducing food sources and make an already serious situation worse.

The government sponsored Farm Scale Evaluations (FSE) were set up to test the impact of GM herbicide tolerant crops compared with conventional ones. Winter and spring oilseed rape were both included in the FSE. The results for spring oilseed were published in October 2003 and found GM oilseed was more harmful to farmland wildlife than the conventionally grown varieties. The results of the FSE for winter oilseed rape are expected shortly.

It is believed that the decision to withdraw the GM oilseed rape varieties is for commercial reasons because the two seeds have been overtaken in their performance by conventional hybrids in the last 7 years. Coincidentally, Bayer recently revealed to Greenpeace India that they no longer intended to produce GM seeds for India where there is also opposition to the technology.

Commenting Pete Riley, Director of the Five Year Freeze, said:

"This is great news for farmers, consumers and the environment although not entirely unexpected. This means that no GM commercial crops can be grown before 2008 but first they have to get EU approval. The Government must use the breathing space to put together a coherent strategy to put the whole of UK farming on a sustainable footing. This should produce huge opportunities for research into new farming techniques and training farmers in delivering clean rivers and water supply and a diverse countryside without resorting to GM crops. The Government also needs to use the next three years to develop an economic climate that means farmers can make sustainable farming profitable".

See more Press releases on the Five Year Freeze website.

More
Burning Issues 2002
and
2003
GM statement (DEFRA website)

GM Maize abandoned

Burning Issues 2004

Main Index

See also
Food for Thought 2002
and
2003