GENTECH archive



Thanks JohnW for fwding this post from MoiraB.   I'm circulating it too.


By FN reporters
[Farming News
Farming News is a partial electronic version of the print magazine of the
same title published in London, England. ]

GM TRIAL work is in danger of grinding to a halt in the UK as both biotech
companies and those involved in the Government's own farm-scale evaluation
programme find it increasingly difficult to persuade farmers to allow
their land to be used for the controversial crops. 

Fear of being exposed to costly legal damage claims from neighbouring
farmers, as well as possible long-term environmental problems, are turning
out to be as significant in the decision-making process as concern over
direct action by anti-GM protesters. 

Meanwhile, 'GM-free zones' are on the horizon.

One insurance expert admitted that with GM crops being such a grey area,
farmers choosing to grow them were "virtually on their own". 

Underwriting manager at the NFU Mutual, Sid Gibson, confirmed to FARMING
NEWS that the principles surrounding GM crops were not clearcut and the
Mutual was trying to formulate its policy."The big unknown is where there
is a risk of cross-contamination," he said "Farmers considering growing GM
crops should get their legal advisers to look at the contract very
carefully Responsibility should he with the biotech company or institution
carrying out the trials." 

Chairman of the Arable Research Institute Associa- tion, Frank Oldfield,
confirmed that insurance was a major issue. 

"I've come across a number of farmers who have said they are prepared to
grow GM crops, but want to know who's going to insure them. If we can't
grow the stuff we'll be out on a limb, at a disadvantage with the rest of
the world." 

This week it became clear that the South West of England is well on the
way to becoming the first UK 'GMO-free zone'. 

All the region's agricultural colleges are expected to become no-go areas
for GMOs, following the Royal Agricultural College's decision not to take
part in farm-scale GM crop experiments.

"The possibility of the college being targeted by vandals was simply too
great," farm manager Mike Limb told FARMING NEWS. 

The Duchy of Cornwall's London estate offices said that all future tenancy
agreements would prohibit farmers using the technology and it was
encouraging existing tenants to adopt the same policy. 

County council farm estates in the region also look likely to follow
Somerset County Council's decision to block cultivation of GM crops on its
10,000- acre estate. 

But Dr Peter Lutman, the co-ordinator of the BRIGHT project set up to
investigate day-to-day management problems on-farm, appealed for farmers
to come forward. "GM crops are not up to commercial standards using
conventional farm practice," he said. 

"Only by monitoring day-to-day management problems on-farm can we learn to
grow them safely and successfully " 

NLP Wessex wrote: 

This article, published in the UK's Farming News 18 June 1999, reports
that British farmers growing GM trials are having difficulty finding
insurance cover for GM crops, with the NFU Mutual (an insurance company
run by the National Farmers Union) recommending that farmers take legal
advice before growing them. 

Farming News also report that the South West region of England is well on
the way to becoming the country's first "GMO-free zone", with major
landowners and agricultural colleges refusing to participate in the
development of this technology. 

It is also interesting to see the co-ordinator of the BRIGHT programme
confirm that: "GM crops are not up to commercial standards using
conventional farm practice". 

This raises the question as to why we are bothering with the technology in
the first place when it is clearly inferior to existing methods (for a
detailed explanation of how this dubious situation has been allowed to
occur please see ). 

For more information on the poor performance of GM crops generally (low
yields etc) visit