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Plant: Defra invites views on proposed new site for GM potato trials




                                  PART 1


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TITLE:  DEFRA INVITES VIEWS ON PROPOSED NEW  SITE FOR GM POTATO TRIALS

SOURCE: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK

AUTHOR: Press Release 55/07

URL:    http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2007/070227b.htm

DATE:   27.02.2007

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DEFRA INVITES VIEWS ON PROPOSED NEW  SITE FOR GM POTATO TRIALS

Defra gave approval in December for the company BASF to undertake research trials of a GM potato at two sites in England, one in Cambridgeshire and the other in Derbyshire.

BASF has now notified Defra that, instead of the previously intended site in Derbyshire, it proposes to conduct trials at a new location in Yorkshire.

Defra will be considering this as a new application in accordance with the Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) Regulations 2002. But before deciding on this it will consider any representations that people may wish to make about the risk of environmental damage posed by the GM trial. The deadline for representations is 20 April 2007. The new location is in the District of East Yorkshire, at ordnance survey grid reference TA1729.

The Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) has made an initial assessment of this proposed change in location. It has provisionally concluded that it does not affect its earlier opinion, that the trials do not raise any safety concerns for human health and the environment.

 

Notes to editors

1. Details of the proposed new trial site and an invitation to make public representations will be posted on the Defra website at www.defra.gov.uk/environment/gm/regulation/applications/index.htm

2. The original consent granted to BASF for the GM potato trials (ref: 06/R42/01), and ACRE ’s advice on the original BASF application, is available at www.defra.gov.uk/environment/gm/regulation/consents/index.htm.

3. As required by Defra, BASF will be informing the relevant local authority in Yorkshire about the proposed GM trial in its area. BASF has placed an advert in the Times today to highlight the new trial location and to indicate that representations can be made to Defra. (The grid reference published in the Times today was incorrect, (this referred to TL1729 instead of the correct TA1729), BASF will be placing an amended advert highlighting correct site details in the Times on Thursday.

4. The GM potato has been developed by BASF for resistance to late potato blight, a significant disease problem for potato growers which they normally combat by using chemical fungicides. The trials will test the effectiveness of the potato’s resistance against UK strains of the disease. Similar trials are already underway in Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands .

5. The existing consent that Defra has issued to BASF specifies appropriate conditions to ensure that no GM potato material enters the food or animal feed. 

 



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:  MIXED REACTION TO DEFRA GM POTATO TRIALS ANNOUNCEMENT

SOURCE: Farmers Weekly, UK

AUTHOR: Jonathan Riley & Philip Clarke

URL:    http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/2007/03/01/102025/mixed-reaction-to-defra-gm-potato-trials-announcement.html

DATE:   01.03.2007

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MIXED REACTION TO DEFRA GM POTATO TRIALS ANNOUNCEMENT

HAVE YOUR SAY...

...on the GM potato trial

Details of the proposed new trial site and an invitation to make public representations can be found on DEFRA"s website at http://www.tiny.cc/gmtrial

 

DEFRA has published details of a proposed site for a genetically modified potato trial in Yorkshire.

The site, which will test the effectiveness of the GM potato"s resistance against UK strains of late potato blight, has been proposed by agrochemical company BASF. It is needed, the company says, to replace a site in Derbyshire that pulled out in December 2006.

It will now have to undergo an approval procedure with DEFRA. This has begun with the department calling for any interested parties to make representations about "the risk of environmental damage posed by the GM trial".

"The deadline for representations to be made is 20 April 2007. The new location is in the District of East Yorkshire, at Ordnance Survey grid reference TA1729," a DEFRA official said.

 

Proposed trial area

"BASF will be informing the relevant local authority in Yorkshire about the proposed GM trial in its area and had already placed an advert in The Times to highlight the new trial location.

"But the first advert had referred to the wrong location," the official admitted.

"BASF placed an amended advert highlighting the correct site details in The Times on 28 February," he said.

Junior DEFRA minister Lord Rooker gave a robust defence of the GM potato trials when questioned on the subject at this week"s NFU annual conference in Birmingham.

The fact that it involved inserting the blight-resistant gene of a wild potato into another potato was hardly controversial, he suggested. "It"s still a potato," he said.

Earlier, former Conservative agriculture minister John Gummer told the conference that GM technology had a key role to play in meeting the growing demand on crops for biofuel without creating food shortages.

"If we"re going to have biofuels without shifting the capacity of temperate agricultural land, people who currently don"t have enough to eat will find their food getting more expensive." This was already happening in Mexico as pressure mounted to grow more maize for biofuel rather than for food.

But the chairman of Jordans Cereals, Bill Jordan, warned against any rush into growing GM crops. "If GMs are introduced in such a way that harms the integrity of British food, many farmers and processors will suffer the consequences."

 



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:  GROWERS FIGHT PLAN TO HOLD GM POTATO CROP TRIAL IN REGION

SOURCE: Yorkshire Post, UK

AUTHOR: Alexandra Wood

URL:    http://www.yorkshiretoday.co.uk/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleID=2088998&SectionID=55

DATE:   01.03.2007

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GROWERS FIGHT PLAN TO HOLD GM POTATO CROP TRIAL IN REGION

CAMPAIGNERS have vowed to fight attempts to hold a genetically modified potato trial in East Yorkshire. Crop development business BASF Plant Science wants to carry out a five-year trial of a potato modified to resist the devastating fungal disease late blight at a farm in the Hedon/Preston area, after a Derbyshire farm pulled out.

The independent expert group the Advisory Committee of Releases to the Environment (ACRE) says the trials, which were approved by Defra for sites in Derbyshire and Cambridgeshire last December, will not result in any adverse effect on human health or the environment.

But campaigners say they are totally opposed.

Organic grower and anti-GM campaigner Gwen Eggington, from Nafferton, near Driffield, said: ”My fear is not the immediate risk to health of people living nearby but the broader long term implications.

”Every survey clearly shows that the public don’t want GM food, so it’s just not a technology, that is either needed or wanted.”

Dr Eggington said research on GM potatoes, which had a different modification, resulted in rats developing health problems, including damage to the immune system and growth rates.

 She said the company needed to release more technical information about the potato they were trialling and that the Government should require them to do so.

The issue will be raised at a meeting of Hull Friends of the Earth on March 6. Co-ordinator Sue Jolliffe said: ”I’m sure there will be quite a lot of strong feeling against it.

”From what I do know it seems rather a waste of time to do this as there isn’t a demand for GM potatoes. Most people wouldn’t touch GM potatoes with a bargepole. You can get resistance to blight by ordinary crossing of potato varieties.”

The company say the potatoes have been modified using a natural trait found in a wild potato.

The Cambridge trial will go ahead this spring, at the headquarters of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB). BASF Plant Science has now applied to Defra for approval to conduct the second trial between April and November this year, and for four subsequent years, on the farm near Hull, which will be managed by NIAB.

Barry Stickings, of BASF, said: ”We are delighted that we have found another trial site. It is important that we carry out trials at more than one location, in order to assess the effectiveness of using this new technology to fight a problem that costs UK farmers around £50m a year. If the trials are successful this would be a scientific breakthrough which would provide a valuable tool for the farming community.”

He added: ”We appreciate communities may have concerns about the trial, and we are committed to ensuring they are fully informed.”

The NFU said it was committed to encouraging research ”to allow the use of science-based technological solutions to the challenges facing agriculture”. 

 



                                  PART 4

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TITLE:  BASF ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO GM POTATO TESTING

SOURCE: NutraIngredients, France

AUTHOR: Anthony Fletcher

URL:    http://www.nutraingredients.com/news/ng.asp?n=74650-basf-gm-potato

DATE:   02.03.2007

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BASF ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO GM POTATO TESTING

02/03/2007 - BASF has announced that it proposes to conduct UK GM potato trials at a new location in Yorkshire instead of the previously intended site in Derbyshire.

The UK’s department for the environment, food and rural affairs (Defra), which originally gave approval in December for BASF to undertake research trials of a GM potato at two sites in England, one in Cambridgeshire and the other in Derbyshire, said that it would now consider BASF’s proposal as a new application in accordance with the Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) Regulations 2002.

The issue has again brought into sharp relief the division within Europe over GM food.

Defra said in December that it was satisfied that the trials would not result in any adverse effect on human health or the environment, but environmentalists claim that the risk of contamination of the food chain means that the trails are unnecessary and uncalled for.

”These GM trials pose a significant contamination threat to future potato crops,” said Friends of the Earth GM campaigner Clare Oxborrow.

”We don’t need GM potatoes and there is no consumer demand for them. The government should promote safe and sustainable agriculture, not this half-baked GM potato plan.”

Friends of the Earth claims that BASF applied to trial the GM potatoes in Ireland last year, but pulled out because of the strict conditions imposed by the Irish authorities. It says that the conditions imposed by Defra are not as strict and could lead to GM contamination of the food chain.

But BASF believes that the trials are not only safe, but could lead to a number of advantages. The GM potato has been developed for resistance to late potato blight, a significant disease problem for potato growers that they normally combat by using chemical fungicides.

The trials are designed to test the effectiveness of the potato’s resistance against UK strains of the disease. Similar trials are already underway in Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands.

The issue of GM approval within the EU is one of the most contentious in agriculture. The recent announcement that US authorities had traced amounts of unapproved genetically modified (GM) food in samples of rice prompted the EU to clamp down on all imports from the US.

The immediacy of this action illustrated the stringent controls the EU has in place to guard against unauthorised products entering the food chain, and also reflected consumer fears over the technology.

In this particular case, the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE), which has already made an initial assessment on the proposed change in location, has provisionally concluded that it does not affect its earlier opinion that the trials do not raise any safety concerns for human health and the environment.

But before reaching a definitive decision, Defra said that it would consider any representations that people may wish to make about the risk of environmental damage posed by the GM trial.

The deadline for representations is 20 April 2007. 

 


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