GM crop trials 'should be secret'
2008 07 29

By Pallab Ghosh | news.bbc.co.uk

Senior researchers have called for the location of small open-air trials of GM crops to be kept secret.

The researchers say that vandalism of GM crop trials is holding back research in the area.

Current legislation requires the exact location of GM crop trials to be publicly available.

But according to those engaged in active research, that information is invariably used by anti-GM protesters to disrupt experiments.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which licenses open air trials commented: "EU legislation says that we must disclose GM trial locations to the public.

"We are awating a European Court of Justice ruling, likely later this year, on a French legal case that should clarify how the EU law in this area can be interpreted by Member States."

Professor Howard Atkinson began a trial of GM potatoes earlier this year which he hoped would be resistant to disease.

The crops were pulled up three weeks after they were planted. Professor Atkinson is due to meet with the environment minister Phil Woolas in early September and will ask him to consider making changes to the current legislation.

"We should follow the same approach as that followed in Canada for very small scale trials of say 400 plants or so - where the risks are looked at by a panel but the location of those sites is not revealed," Professor Atkinson explained.

"The other possibility is to identify some national testing centre or centres where such trials could be run securely without the risk of zealots destroying them".

Security issues

Professor Atkinson said that open air trials were necessary to develop crops that could not only help farmers in the UK - but also help increase food production in Africa.

The disruption of trials, he said, has already led to companies moving away from the UK and academic research in the area has begun to decline.

"Academically, there has been a reduction in the attempt to do work of this type - they've found other problems to look at - but these are not generating practical benefits immediately and certainly not facing up to the big issue of food security in Africa," he said.

"As far as companies are concerned, they can do this sort of work elsewhere"

Jim Dunwell of Reading University and a member of ACRE, the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment, said there had been a sharp drop in the number of GM crop trials in Britain over the last few years with just one application for this year, down from about 20 to 30 per year in the late 1990s.

Local communities
Wayne Powell, who is the director of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany in Cambridge, was engaged in a trial of a crop that had the potential to benefit banana growers in Uganda. It was disrupted by protesters last year.

As a result, he said: "We now have 24-hour security, we have fences around materials."

However, anti-GM campaigners, such as Claire Oxborough of Friends of the Earth, believe that the trials should be stopped altogether.

She commented: "Friends of the Earth would have deep concerns about making them secret because of the potential risks that they pose.

"They are at the very early stages of development - we don't know the impact they'll have on the environment and on health and very often these trials are not set up to look at that."

She added: "What you don't want to do is get into a situation where in rural communities you have an air of distrust - rumours, speculation going on because no one knows what their neighbours might be growing.

"We need transparency - we need to know where these field trials are taking place so that farmers and the public can be adequately protected."

Article from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7529590.stm



Related Articles


Latest News from our Front Page

6,000-Year-Old Temple with Possible Sacrificial Altars Discovered
2014 10 21
A 6,000-year-old temple holding humanlike figurines and sacrificed animal remains has been discovered within a massive prehistoric settlement in Ukraine. Built before writing was invented, the temple is about 60 by 20 meters (197 by 66 feet) in size. It was a "two-story building made of wood and clay surrounded by a galleried courtyard," the upper floor divided into five ...
What happened to Journalist Serena Shim? Assassinated? Find out what happened to Serena, Press TV director calls on Turkey
2014 10 21
Press TV news director Hamid Reza Emadi says the “suspicious death,” of the news channel’s correspondent in Turkey is a tragedy for “anyone who wants to get the truth.” Emadi made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Sunday following Serena Shim’s death across the border from Syria’s Kurdish city of Kobani, where the ISIL terrorists and Kurdish fighters ...
Ancient Roman Nanotechnology Inspires Next-Generation Holograms for Information Storage
2014 10 21
The Lycurgus Cup, as it is known due to its depiction of a scene involving King Lycurgus of Thrace, is a 1,600-year-old jade green Roman chalice that changes colour depending on the direction of the light upon it. It baffled scientists ever since the glass chalice was acquired by the British Museum in the 1950s, as they could not work ...
Rapid Geomagnetic Reversal Possibility: Confirmed
2014 10 21
From the video: "The scientists who conducted the study are still unsure why the magnetic field is weakening, but one likely reason is the Earth’s magnetic poles are getting ready to flip, said Rune Floberghagen, the ESA’s Swarm mission manager. In fact, the data suggest magnetic north is moving toward Siberia." Tune into Red Ice Radio: Ben Davidson - Suspicious0bservers: Space Weather ...
Georgia Guide Stone 2014 cube stone removal
2014 10 21
From: Youtube: Was it all just a gag? it seems the cube stone just happens to be made out of the same Elberton granite that the rest of this morbid monument is made from.
More News »