Defra update on GM crops

Defra has proposed measures to ensure that growing of genetically modified crops in England will not disadvantage other farmers. The plans include enforcing strict separation of distances between genetically modified and conventional crops.
Under EU rules, no GM crops will be grown in the UK unless scientific evidence shows they are safe for human health and the environment. No commercial GM cultivation is expected here before 2009 at the earliest.
Should any GM crops with EU safety approval be grown here in future, the Government wants a well-researched framework of practical measures in place to ensure that both production regimes can coexist but remain separate.
Under the proposals, anyone planning to grow GM crops like maize or oilseed rape will have to ensure that they observe the required separation distance, and where necessary notify neighbouring farmers, to minimise GM cross-pollination.
Environment Minister Ian Pearson says that the proposals are not a green light for GM crops.
“Our top priority is protecting consumers and the environment. We have a strict EU regime in place, which ensures only genetically modified crops that are safe for human health and the environment could be grown in the UK. No GMs suitable for UK conditions have met this requirement so far, he said.
“But we have a responsibility to be fully prepared if crops which meet the safety criteria are developed and grown here in future. That’s why strict separation distances will be enforced so that organic and conventional farmers don’t lose out financially and people can make a choice between GM and non-GM products.“We also want to hear people’s views on the wider issues we have raised in the consultation paper. Those views will inform our further thinking.
The deadline for responses is 20 October 2006.

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