'GM will never be grown in Britain' (4/4/2004)

If in need of dessert, you may like to try this item on the country at the heart of the attempt to expand GM globally:

Americans shrinking as junk food takes its toll: Poverty and poor diet mean the average US man is getting smaller... The Observer, Sunday April 4 http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1185457,00.html

1.'GM will never be grown in Britain'
2.Abandoned: Plan to plant first GM crop in Britain

1.'GM will never be grown in Britain'
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
Independent on Sunday (IoS), 04 April 2004

Ministers are prepared for GM crops never to be grown commercially in Britain after the strain approved for cultivation was withdrawn last week by the company that developed it.

They are determined not to compromise on strict conditions for growing the crops, which were behind the decision by Bayer CropScience not to proceed with the GM maize given a tentative go-ahead by the Government last month. Unless the controls are relaxed, Bayer says it will abandon the technology in Britain.

Environmentalists and politicians hailed Bayer's decision as the death of GM in Britain. They said that even if biotech companies did try to get new modified crops approved it would be "extremely difficult" to get government or public approval.

Bayer's decision marks victory for a five-year campaign by The Independent on Sunday, and a defeat for Tony Blair.

2.Abandoned: Plan to plant first GM crop in Britain
DAILY MAIL (London) April 1, 2004

GERMAN chemicals firm Bayer yesterday dramatically dropped plans to grow Britain's first commercial GM crop. The decision was claimed as a victory by consumer and green lobby groups. But the biotech farming lobby viewed it as a disaster, setting back such cultivation many years. It was also a huge embarrassment for ministers, who have done all they could to approve the genetically modified maize.

Bayer is believed to have abandoned its plans after realising that consumer opposition could make it impossible to find a market for the product. Three weeks ago, Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett controversially approved the maize, called Chardon LL, to be grown as animal feed. Her approval came despite a Governmentfunded study which found nine out of ten people reject commercial cultivation of GM crops without further proof of their safety for health and the environment. Organic farmers in particular feared GM pollen would inevitably contaminate their crops.

Yesterday's decision is likely to have cost Bayer CropScience millions of pounds in lost development expenses. The company explained it by saying that government restrictions on how the maize is grown would make it uneconomic. 'The specific details of these conditions are still not available and thus will result in yet another "open- ended" period of delay,' a statement said. 'These uncertainties and undefined timelines will make this fiveyearold variety economically nonviable.'

Farmers would have been prevented from using the highly toxic weedkiller atrazine, which is employed by American farmers growing GM maize. Atrazine is being banned by the EU.

The decision delighted campaigners. Friends of the Earth GM campaigner Pete Riley said: 'This GM maize had serious question marks about its safety and performance and should never have been given UK approval. 'But this was ignored by Bayer and the Government in their blind rush to push GM on the public.'

He added: 'The Government must now abandon this dangerous and unpopular technology and concentrate on protecting our food, farming and environment from GM contamination.'

Sarah North, of Greenpeace, added: 'Tony Blair bent over backwards to get this crop grown, but Bayer knew its maize would fail in the field.'

Environment Minister Elliot Morley tried to present the announcement as a victory for Government caution. He said: 'We do not apologise for the fact there is a tough EU-wide regulatory regime on GMs. It applies to the whole of the EU not just the UK.

'We always said it would be for the market to decide the viability of growing and selling GM once the Government assessed safety and risk.'

But Conservative environment spokesman Theresa May said: 'This makes a farce of the Government's original decision to allow the commercial growing of GM crops.

'Until all of the legitimate concerns raised by the public, biotechnology companies and environmental organisations are answered fully, no further action should be taken on GM crops.'

The maize was approved for use after farm-scale trials on a series of GM crops. The trials found that growing varieties of GM oilseed rape and beet harmed wildlife such as bees and insects, and so threatened birds. Chardon LL was the only crop found to be less harmful than conventional varieties.

Sean Poulter, the Daily Mail Consumer Affairs Correspondent, is to receive the Organic Consumer Education Award 2004, from the Soil Association. The award is given in recognition of efforts to increase awareness of the issues surrounding the production of organic food. Judges described his coverage of GM crops and food as 'consistently impressive'.  

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