info4action archive


GE - Farm Scale trials go ahead secretly

1) Gene rapeseed test sites planted in UK -AgrEvo - Sep 10, 1999
LONDON, Sept 10 (Reuters) 
2 )For Immediate Release September 10th 1999 AGREVO RIDES ROUGHSHOD OVER
3) Friends of the Earth FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday 10th September 1999 
4) Farmer pulls the plug on key GM crop trial; NEIGHBOURS' FEARS FORCE
September 8, 1999 -

[NB Commment from GEN - these are extremely misleading comments that have come
from Nottingham Farmer David Rose. According to AgrEvo Press Release as of
yesterday - Mr Rose is going ahead with a slightly smaller scale trial of
exactly the same GE oilseed rape on his farm. Surely this means that whatever
concerns local people had about the larger farm scale trial they will still
have about the slightly smaller GE trial!]

1) Gene rapeseed test sites planted in UK -AgrEvo - Sep 10, 1999
LONDON, Sept 10 (Reuters) 

Three of four British test sites planned 
for genetically modified winter oilseed rape have been planted and a 
site has been identified, biotechnology company AgrEvo said on Friday. 
A simultaneous announcement was made by the Supply Chain Initiative 
Modified Crops (SCIMAC), a group representing farmers, plant breeders, 
seed trade and biotechnology companies. 
"AgrEvo believe that these farmers should be supported in their 
commitment to balanced science and reasoned debate within the framework 
a safe regulatory framework," the biotechnology firm said in a 
"All the growers involved are keen to ensure that these evaluations 
continue so that the effects of the technology can be assessed," it 
SCIMAC said it shared the UK government's determination to ensure 
the development of gene technology was based on sound scientific 
-- "not pressure group propaganda and intimidation." 
It added, "The farm scale evaluations are designed to answer the 
questions raised about GM (genetically modified) crop technology by 
environmental groups." 
Environmental activists have repeatedly attacked and destroyed test 
fields of gene crops in Britain, where some food retailers have pledged 
take GM ingredients out of the food they sell. 
AgrEvo is a joint venture between Germany's Hoechst AG <HOEG.F> and 
Schering AG <SCHG.F> and is one of the leaders in the field of 
Environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth said in August it 
taking the British government to court over the "rushed" approval of an 
expansion of gene crop trials.
2 )For Immediate Release September 10th 1999
Greenpeace deeply regrets agrochemical company AgrEvo's announcement 
today (10th September 1999) that it has planted three farm-scale trials 
of GM winter oilseed rape despite overwhelming public opposition to the 
A recent report, commissioned by MAFF, by the respected John Innes 
Research Institute, pointed out that "once GM crops are released they, 
like all crops, cannot be completely contained."
These so-called "farm-scale evaluations" of GM winter oilseed rape will 
contaminate wild plants - natural brassicas such as wild mustard, wild 
radish and wild turnip. Dispersal of pollen over several miles will take 
place by bees and other insects and could lead to contamination of 
locally produced honey.
Greenpeace campaign director, Sarah Burton, said: " AgrEvo's insistence 
on carrying on with these dangerous trials is arrogant, anti-democratic 
and anti-nature. There is no demand for the products from either food 
producers or supermarkets."
According to AgrEvo, the location of the fourth farm-scale trial site 
will be announced tomorrow (Saturday 11th September), after David Rose 
from of Home Farm in Screveton backed out of plans to grow a farm-scale 
trial of winter GM oil seed rape. At a public meeting held at Syerston 
Village Hall, local people voted unanimously against accepting the 
farm-scale trial in their area because they were worried that the GM 
crops would contaminate their environment, including locally produced 
honey, insects and wild plants. 
"The Government should cancel the farm scale trial programme, ban GM 
food and put its energy into supporting organic and sustainable 
farming," added Burton.
For further information please contact the Greenpeace press office on 
0171 865 8255/6/7/8

3) Friends of the Earth FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday 10th September 1999 
> AgrEvo has announced that it is to continue with its farm-scale trials 
> of winter oilseed rape, despite the fact that the High Court has 
> granted Friends of the Earth permission to bring a judicial review of 
> the Government's decision to give the go-ahead for the crop. 
> Meanwhile, Environment Minister Michael Meacher has complained about 
> "intimidation" of farmers after Nottinghamshire farmer David Rose 
> decided not to take part in the testing programme. AgrEvo is to 
> announce a new trial site in Lincolnshire tomorrow, bringing the 
> number of farm-scale trials back up to four. 
> Commenting, FOE Executive Director Charles Secrett said: 
> "We are bitterly disappointed with the decision. At present, there may 
> be no legal barrier to prevent planting, but AgrEvo has decided to go 
> ahead despite the High Court's view that these trials are arguably 
> unlawful. 
> Public money will be spent on these trials. Two weeks ago the 
> Government told the High Court that the planting date 'had been set 
> back due to the issue of these proceedings as, should the Court decide 
> that unlawful, any seedlings already planted may 
> have to be destroyed'. The Government has obviously now changed its 
> mind, and decided to risk both wasting public money and damaging the 
> environment. 
> Worse still, Mr Meacher is quite wrongly pretending that Mr David Rose 
> decided not to proceed with his trial because of intimidation, and 
> threatening that the trials programme may in future be conducted in 
> secret. The public will not tolerate any attempt to force GM food on 
> to the market after a sham testing programme conducted in private." 
> 1. FOE has been granted leave for a judicial review of the 
> Government's decision to allow planting of winter oilseed rape with a 
> new consent being required under the EU Deliberate Release Directive. 
> This decision allowed AgrEvo to change the GM crop being tested (from 
> spring to winter oilseed rape) without submitting a new application, 
> quadruple the amount of land covered by farm-scale trials, to an area 
> the size of Southampton (from 1,250 ha to 5,000 ha), and grow the crop 
> for 12 months rather than 6. 
> The decision was made by officials at the Department of Environment, 
> Transport and the Regions; it is not even clear if any Government 
> minister was ever consulted. The decision removed any chance of 
> AgrEvo's application being put to the Government's reformed ACRE 
> committee (Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment), which 
> was set up to ensure greater scrutiny of GM development. 
> 2. Nottinghamshire farmer David Rose was due to grow winter oilseed 
> rape on behalf of GM company AgrEvo, but has pulled out of the 10 
> hectare trial following meetings with FOE and consultations with local 
> people. 
> -- 
> "The idea that public transport has become more expensive since we 
> came into office is not the case, certainly with regard to the tube 
> and the buses. Over the last two years fares have risen no more than 
> RPI (Retail Price Index) plus three". 
> "Aeroplanes are very carefully controlled. They are not allowed to fly 
> below a certain height - except on landing". 
> Glenda Jackson 
> Candidate for Mayor of London 
> BBC Online 
> 25th August 1999 
> Note: This site was rapidly amended, on 26th August, but much of the 
> flavour of the original is still preserved ... 
> -- 
> Telephone: 0207 566 1657 (w) 
> 0385 236974 (mobile: jointly with Neil Verlander) 
> Pager: 01523 703587 
> Fax: 0207 490 0881
4) Farmer pulls the plug on key GM crop trial; NEIGHBOURS' FEARS FORCE
September 8, 1999 -
BODY: A FARMER has abandoned a trial of 
> genetically-modified crops, plunging the Government's 
> testing programme into crisis. David Rose pulled out of 
> plans to plant 25 acres of his land with GM oilseed rape 
> after protests from nearby residents and farmers. His 
> decision will be a huge blow to the Government, whose three 
> remaining farm trials of 'Frankenstein food' crops have been 
> delayed by legal action. Mr Rose was to grow the mutant 
> crop at his farm on behalf of the German biotechnology 
> company AgrEvo. But after opposition from neighbours the 
> land at Screveton, near Nottingham, is being sown with 
> conventional oilseed rape. Friends of the Earth, which has 
> been granted leave to bring a judicial review of the GM 
> trials, welcomed Mr Rose's decision. Its food campaigner 
> Adrian Bebb said yesterday: 'This should be congratulated. 
> 'This is another sign that Tony Blair's great GM experiment 
> is failing at the hands of the public. The Government should 
> cancel these trials, ban GM food and put the enormous 
> resources they are spending on GM into organic and 
> sustainable farming. That's what the people of the UK want 
> and Tony Blair is is a disaster for the Government's GM 
> testing programme. Mr Rose has pulled the plug on one trial 
> and Friends of the Earth's legal action may scupper the 
> rest. 'It's time for the GM companies and the Government to 
> realise this is a battle that they cannot win. The GM 
> trials are bad science. They threaten the environment. They 
> have no public support.' Greenpeace also welcomed the move. 
> Its campaign director Sarah Burton said: 'People who have 
> stood up against AgrEvo and voiced their concern about this 
> genetic pollution a fool if he believes he can ignore 
> them.' Mr Rose's decision comes after a summer of failed GM 
> trials. Over the past few months protesters have wrecked 
> around 50 small-scale experiments, while at least two 
> farmers have destroyed fields of test crops after 
> complaints from locals. Neighbouring farmers in 
> Nottinghamshire feared that pollen from Mr Rose's GM 
> oilseed rape could contaminate their crops, while local 
> beekeepers complained that genetic pollution might ruin 
> their honey. Beekeeper and farmer Steve Stevenson said: 'I 
> was not impressed with the scientific aspects of this 
> so-called trial. 'I had a major concern about whether any 
> honey I had could be legally sold because there is a 
> five-year moratorium on the introduction of these organisms 
> into the human food chain.' 
> AgrEvo was unavailable for comment last night. A leading 
> firm in the GM industry has gone bust. Axis Genetics was 
> caught by the backlash against genetically-modified crops. 
> The company went into administration after failing to 
> raise the GBP 10million it needed to keep its research 
> going. Yesterday its chief executive admitted public 
> opposition to GM plants had frightened away investors. 
> Unlike biotech giants Monsanto and AgrEvo, Axis was not 
> producing GM food but developing 'veggie vaccines' plants 
> which contain disease-fighting drugs. A potato containing a 
> drug to help combat hepatitis B began clinical trials in 
> the U.S. six weeks ago. Plants which could protect against 
> cancer and diarrhoea were also being developed. Chief 
> executive Iain Cubitt said the Cambridge-based firm had 
> raised GBP 8.2million towards its work but failed to get 
> more because investors were nervous. 'Some investors are 
> still wary of getting close to GM plants,' Dr Cubitt added. 
> 'The main question is the lack of confidence of investors in 
> the biotechnology industry as a whole. Some people have 
> made money but others haven't. 'I don't believe consumers 
> are suspicious of pharmaceutical products based on GM 
> technology, but the hysteria over GM foods has had some 
> impact, even though we don't work with food.' Half the 
> company's 50 employees were laid off last week when the 
> company called in administrators Ernst and Young. The 
> remaining staff face an uncertain future while the 
> accountancy firm searches for a buyer for the firm.