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APPROVAL & PLANTS: U.K. gives consent for trial of genetically modified wheat



                                  PART 1


------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   U.K. GIVES CONSENT FOR TRIAL OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED WHEAT

SOURCE:  Bloomberg, USA

AUTHOR:  Tony C. Dreibus

URL:     http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-16/u-k-gives-consent-for-trial-of-genetically-modified-wheat-2-.html

DATE:    16.09.2011

SUMMARY: "A trial of wheat that?s been genetically modified to resist crop-damaging aphids was approved by the U.K. government. [...] The Advisory Committee of Releases to the Environment, an independent ?expert group,? found the plants will pose no threat to people or the environment, Defra said. [...] The test variety must be surrounded by a wheat-pollen barrier formed by another type of the grain at least 2 meters wide during the trial to assure control, Defra said. It also said no cereal plants can be grown within 20 meters."

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U.K. GIVES CONSENT FOR TRIAL OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED WHEAT

A trial of wheat that?s been genetically modified to resist crop-damaging aphids was approved by the U.K. government.

The trial will be carried out between next March and September 2013 by 160-year-old Rothamsted Research, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said today on its website. The Advisory Committee of Releases to the Environment, an independent ?expert group,? found the plants will pose no threat to people or the environment, Defra said.

?This isn?t being grown for food,? James Dubrey, a department spokesman, said by phone. ?It?s all been tested in labs, and now it?s on to the field trial, which is an essential stage for any research. It?s a small-scale trial with tight controls and had to go through a complex and detailed clearance process.?

Defra has given consent for trials of biotech organisms seven times since May 2008 before today, according to its website. That included testing of a potato variety resistant to cyst nematodes, a pest that invades or feeds on roots.

More than 20 species of aphids attack U.K. crops, reducing yields and quality, the National Farmers Union said. Approval of the wheat trial is ?an exciting development,? chief science and regulatory affairs adviser Helen Ferrier said in an e-mailed statement.

Crop Losses

?Genetic improvement, enabling the plants to be more resistant to aphid infestation, is one important way to reduce unsustainable crop losses and reliance on pesticides,? Ferrier said. ?Genetic modification is one highly effective breeding technology that can make crops resistant to pests.?

The trial must take place at the Rothamsted Research farm in Harpenden, England, Defra said. The test site can be no larger than 12,800 square meters (3.2 acres) and will be composed of two fields no bigger than 6,400 square meters and at least 20 meters (66 feet) apart, it said.

Rothamsted is the largest U.K. farm-research center and ?almost certainly the oldest agricultural research station in the world,? according to its website.

The test variety must be surrounded by a wheat-pollen barrier formed by another type of the grain at least 2 meters wide during the trial to assure control, Defra said. It also said no cereal plants can be grown within 20 meters.

During the year following harvesting of the modified wheat, the area must be left unseeded and any ?volunteer? plants must be killed, it said.



                                  PART 2

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   BRITAIN APPROVES TRIAL FOR GM WHEAT IN 2012, 2013

SOURCE:  Thomson Reuters, USA

AUTHOR:  Nigel Hunt

URL:     http://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFL5E7KG2OX20110916

DATE:    16.09.2011

SUMMARY: "Britain?s farm ministry said on Friday it has granted approval for a research trial in 2012 and 2013 on genetically modified wheat which is resistant to aphids. ?The research is on wheat that has been genetically modified to resist aphids, which are a pest in wheat crops,? the ministry said in a statement. Genetically modified crops are grown widely in many parts of the world including the United States, Argentina, China and Brazil."

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BRITAIN APPROVES TRIAL FOR GM WHEAT IN 2012, 2013

LONDON, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Britain?s farm ministry said on Friday it has granted approval for a research trial in 2012 and 2013 on genetically modified wheat which is resistant to aphids.

?The research is on wheat that has been genetically modified to resist aphids, which are a pest in wheat crops,? the ministry said in a statement.

Genetically modified crops are grown widely in many parts of the world including the United States, Argentina, China and Brazil.

There are, however, currently no GM crops grown commercially in Britain where they have struggled to win consumer acceptance.

Some scientists backed the government?s decision.

?We need to remain open-minded to every technology if we are going to successfully tackle the challenges of food security,? said Tina Barsby, Chief Executive of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany.

?This experiment will allow British scientists to properly evaluate resistance to an agricultural pest that is highly destructive to wheat stocks worldwide.?

The decision was condemned, however, by a leading anti-GM group.

?The key question ministers need to answer is why they are funding research into GM wheat for which there is no market in the UK, Europe or anywhere else when other areas of proven, less risky agricultural research, such as agroecology, are crying out for additional funds,? Peter Riley of GM Freeze said in a statement. (Reporting by Nigel Hunt; editing by James Jukwey)



                                  PART 3

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   GREEN LIGHT FOR FARM TRIALS OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED WHEAT WHICH IS RESISTANT TO INSECTS

SOURCE:  The Daily Mail, UK

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2038447/Green-light-farm-trials-genetically-modified-wheat-resistant-insects.html

DATE:    17.09.2011

SUMMARY: "A trial of genetically modified wheat was given the green light yesterday. The crop, which has been modified to make it resistant to insects, will be planted on a three-acre site in spring 2012 and 2013. It is hoped the wheat will release a chemical that will both deter aphids and attract their predators and parasites. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said an independent expert group had found the trial would not damage human health or the environment."

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GREEN LIGHT FOR FARM TRIALS OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED WHEAT WHICH IS RESISTANT TO INSECTS

A trial of genetically modified wheat was given the green light yesterday.

The crop, which has been modified to make it resistant to insects, will be planted on a three-acre site in spring 2012 and 2013.

It is hoped the wheat will release a chemical that will both deter aphids and attract their predators and parasites.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said an independent expert group had found the trial would not damage human health or the environment.

?Protecting consumers and the environment is our top priority and we?re permitting a tightly-controlled, small-scale trial, in which none of the wheat will enter the food chain,? said a spokesman.

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The wheat will be planted at Rothamsted Research farm in Harpenden, Hertfordshire.

There are only two other GM trials in the UK, with the University of Leeds testing pest-resistant potatoes and the John Innes Centre in Norwich examining blight resistance. Previous trials have been attacked by anti-GM campaigners and the Harpenden site will be protected by a chain-link fence.

Professor Jonathan Jones, of the John Innes Centre, praised the latest trial as a novel approach to reduce crop losses.

Campaigners however said the move was both a ?big mistake? and ?premature?.

Pete Riley of GM Freeze said that there were a number of concerns about the GM wheat, including whether it would cross with the weed couch grass, the possibility of wild birds carrying the GM seeds off-site, doubts over whether the GM wheat would work and the unknown impacts on birds which feed on aphids.

?The key question ministers need to answer is why they are funding research into GM wheat for which there is no market in the UK, Europe or anywhere else when other areas of proven, less risky agricultural research, such as agroecology, are crying out for additional funds,? he said.

?The decision to approve an open-air trial of GM wheat is a big mistake and premature given the serious lack of information in the application.?



                                  PART 4

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   DEFRA APPROVES GM WHEAT TRIAL

SOURCE:  Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK (Defra)

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2011/09/16/gm-wheat-trial/

DATE:    16.09.2011

SUMMARY: "Defra has granted consent to Rothamsted Research to conduct a research trial on GM wheat in 2012 and 2013. [...] In line with ACRE?s advice, precautionary conditions have been attached to the statutory consent for the trial. These aim to ensure that no GM material from the trial will enter the food and feed chain."

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DEFRA APPROVES GM WHEAT TRIAL

Defra has granted consent to Rothamsted Research to conduct a research trial on GM wheat in 2012 and 2013. The research is on wheat that has been genetically modified to resist aphids, which are a pest in wheat crops. The Rothamsted Research application has been evaluated by the independent expert group the Advisory Committee of Releases to the Environment (ACRE). It is satisfied that the proposed trial will not result in any adverse effect on human health or the environment. In line with ACRE?s advice, precautionary conditions have been attached to the statutory consent for the trial. These aim to ensure that no GM material from the trial will enter the food and feed chain.

Notes

1. Further background on the Rothamsted Research application, the statutory consent and ACRE?s advice can be found at http://bit.ly/nn793T



                                  PART 5

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   DEFRA APPROVAL OF UK GM WHEAT TRIAL A MISTAKE

SOURCE:  GM Freeze, UK

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.gmfreeze.org/news-releases/167/

DATE:    16.09.2011

SUMMARY: "?The key question Ministers need to answer is why they are funding research into GM wheat for which there is no market in the UK, Europe or anywhere else when other areas of proven, less risky agricultural research, such as agroecology, are crying out for additional funds.

The decision to approve an open-air trial of GM wheat is a big mistake and premature given the serious lack of information in the application. We need to know far more about the alarm chemicals involved and the formation of wheat-couch grass crosses before we start genetically modifying a staple crop.?"

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DEFRA APPROVAL OF UK GM WHEAT TRIAL A MISTAKE

GM Freeze today described Defra?s decision to approve a GM wheat trial at Rothamsted Research as ?a big mistake and premature?.

The consent [1], issued today, includes provision to prevent the GM wheat crossing with couch grass and to stop wood pigeon feeding on the crop.

The group opposed the application during a public consultation in the summer including [2]:

The lack of market for GM wheat anywhere on the planet means it is a waste of time and money (some £1.28 million).

Serious doubts about whether the GM wheat will work as stated.

Lack of any data on potential health effects.

Presence of an antibiotic resistant marker gene against European Medicines Agency advice.

Risk of cross-contamination with other wheat crops and some grasses already problematic as arable weeds.

Unknown impacts on predator and parasites populations, which already provide some control for aphid infestations.

Unknown impacts on bird species, which feed on aphids as part of their diet.

The potential for development of aphids desensitised to the alarm chemical after being continually subjected to the GM deterrent over time so that they do not respond to it when it is constantly produced by the wheat plants 24 hours a day 7 days per week.

GM Freeze asked Ministers to hold a public consultation on the use of synthetic animal genes in GM crops, as one of the key genes in the GM wheat ?has most similarity to that from cow (Bos taurus)? according to the applicant.

Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:

?It is clear from the authorisation letter that the Government?s scientific advisors have concerns about the possibility of the GM wheat crossing with couch grass, a major arable weed, which could cause long-term problems for farmers if this wheat was ever grown on a commercial scale.

?There are also concerns about wild birds carrying the GM seeds off site, but there is no provision to deal with small birds, such a sparrows, or small mammals doing this.

?The key question Ministers need to answer is why they are funding research into GM wheat for which there is no market in the UK, Europe or anywhere else when other areas of proven, less risky agricultural research, such as agroecology, are crying out for additional funds.

The decision to approve an open-air trial of GM wheat is a big mistake and premature given the serious lack of information in the application. [3] We need to know far more about the alarm chemicals involved and the formation of wheat-couch grass crosses before we start genetically modifying a staple crop.?