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Country News - 2002

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Sinister turn in GM food debate
Tuesday 05 February

THE long-running controversy over genetically modified foods (GM) took a sinister new turn today with a warning from the Government's own advisers on nature concerns.

English Nature has been studying reports from Canada, where GM crops have been widely sown, and reports that some GM plants have been crossbreeding to produce new botanical species whose usefulness - or potential danger - to humans is not known.

Even worse, these new species are immune to modern, commonly used weed-killers and can only be controlled by older chemicals which, in the past, have, have proved to be potentially dangerous to other plants and wildlife.

The Government has for several years shown an ambiguous attitude to GM crops - at one stage, the Prime Minister spoke up in favour of them, although his response has since become more muted.

To be warned by their own scientific advisers of possible dangers of widespread planting of such crops in the UK will place the food and rural affairs ministry DEFRA into yet another quandary.

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