GENTECH archive


Re: RSBP and English Nature

-----Original Message-----
From: Daniel Swartz <>
To: <>
Date: Friday, 4 December 1998 12:49
Subject: RSBP and English Nature

>Hi folks,
>I heard that the UK Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and English
>Nature have called for a moratoriom on GMOs; and they have said that
>GMOs pose a danger for birds.
>Does anyone have any press on this???
The Independent (UK)  Saturday 10th October 98.

GENETIC CROPS MAY BE BANNED...   (headline feature front page)

By: Charles Arthur and Michael Mc Carthy.

The government is considering a three year moratorium on the commercial
planting of genetically modified (GM) crops in Britain.

Yesterday it summoned leaders of biotechnology companies in Britain,
including the giant Monsanto corperation for talks about the voluntary
code, which would delay wide-scale planting of transgenic crops until at
least 2002

Recommendations from yesterday's meeting will be passed on to the
Enviroment Minister Michael Meacher and the Food Minister Jeff Rooker. They
will decide what action the Government should take over the biotech
companies' plans.

The Un ited Kingdom's first bioengineered crop, an oilseed rape that can
survive being dosed with a specific weedkiller, is due to be harvested and
grown next year. Many more are waiting in the wings, but the government's
wildlife adviser, English Nature, believes the whole process should be
altered while essential research is carried out on their possible effects
on the enviroment.

The front line crop, developed by the Belgium firm Plant Genetic Systems,
has been cleared for growing in the EU. It now only requires British
clearance for the herbicide developed to go with it. That decision would
normally fall to Mr Rooker. However , it was learnt last night that the
government has begun it's own review of the E/U decision to see if it can
be revbersed.

The latest moves follow mounting concern about the possible health and
enviromental effects of the new plants, which have this year been the
subject of an outspoken attack by Prince Charles and attacks by protest
groups that have torn up scores of plants at test sites.

Last July, English Nature called for the moratorium, arguing that the use
of stronger weedkillers on crops genetically engineered to tolerate them
could have a "catastrophic" effect because it could destroy other plant,
bird and insect life.

Last Monday, officials at the Department of the Enviroment, Transport and
the Regions (DETR) invited English Nature and the enviromental pressure
groups to restate their case to Linda Smith, head of the DETR's
biotechnology unit, and a senior official from the Min istry of Agriculture
Fisheries and Food. Yesterday it was the turn of the companies. Officials
will now make recommendations to their respective ministers.

A Monsanto spokesperson said "Some groups have said that they want to move
to a moratorium. The purpose of the meeting is to let both sides voice
their opinion. Once those have been gathered, it is up to Mr Meacher to
take a view. We had not planned commercial planting of crops until 2000.

Earlier this year, Mr Meacher expressed qualms about the advent of wide
scale commercial planting of Gm crops. "These are difficult issues, in
particular the wider indirect effect on fields,"he said."The allegation
that it can lead to a sterility of fields obviously is a matter of great

Getting companies to agree to a moratorium would be quicker - and legally
easier for the Government than seeking a ban on an issue that is largely
controlled from Brussels.

GM crops have become politically important since 1996, when Monsanto began
planting soya modified to resist it's own herbicide in the United States.

It almost sparked a trade war with Europe when the GM soya was exported
without being marked.

Growing consumer resistance in the UK and on the Continent had led to
labelling of foods made from transgenic crops, but the Governments of a
number of countries - paticularly Germany and France - are resisting
companies attempts to introduce new products.