Government announces fuller evaluations of growing genetically modified crops

Tough new measures, additional checks and greater transparency about growing genetically modified (GM) crops were announced this week by Environment Minister Michael Meacher and Food Safety Minister Jeff Rooker.

Speaking to the House of Lords Select Committee, Michael Meacher and

Jeff Rooker highlighted:

— farm-scale evaluations – a programme of managed development of GM crops whereby the first commercial plantings are strictly limited and monitored for ecological effects along with comparable plantings of conventional crops;

— considering calls from both sides of the debate for an environmental stakeholders forum to discuss and advise on environmental issues raised by biotechology;

n the setting up of a new Ministerial Group on Biotechnology and Genetic Modification chaired by Jack Cunningham;

— amendment of Directive 90/220 – the UK is seeking to make sure that the scope of the directive and of the environmental risk assessment are well-defined and broad enough to cover indirect as well as direct effects of GMOs;

— a scientific review of pesticides used on GM crops – comparing the likely impact on biodiversity of current and possible future practice, including an analysis of the likely level of herbicide usage on herbicide tolerant crops;

— a re-assessment of herbicides to be used on GM herbicide tolerant crops – existing approvals will not automatically be transferred to this new use, and re-assessments will cover their effect on non-target species; and

– looking into introducing long term monitoring arrangements capable of picking up any unexpected effects should they emerge in the future.

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