Channel Island goes GM free

The island of Jersey has decided to maintain itself as an area free from GM crops. The decision includes outlawing the growth of any GM potato varieties that may be developed in future.

The States of Jersey, the island’s government, took the decision in response to sustained disapproval of GM foods by UK consumers. Mainland UK consumers are the primary purchasers of Jersey new potatoes.

The sale in Jersey of foods containing GM ingredients has not been outlawed, only the production of GM crops.

Jersey is the largest of the English Channel Islands with an economy dependent on off-shore finance, tourism and agriculture. Its new potatoes are well known and it also exports tomatoes and cut flowers.

Jersey’s decision comes in the same week that the BBC said it had obtained proof that GM pollen has travelled up to 4½km. The evidence comes from a GM oilseed rape crop in Oxfordshire. The evidence was presented to UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher, who agreed that UK regulations regarding the legally-required distances between GM and non-GM crops may have to be reviewed. The current distance is 200m.

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