Crops campaigners celebrate

ANTI-GM protesters have celebrated victory as the Government last night appeared unlikely to go-ahead with growing the crops for the “foreseeable future”.

ANTI-GM protesters have celebrated victory as the Government last night appeared unlikely to go-ahead with growing the crops for the “foreseeable future”.

The announcement came after German company Bayer CropScience

blamed constraints which, it said, made growing herbicide resistant maize economically non-viable.

The company was the only one eligible to grow the genetically-modified maize Chardon LL in the UK.

The move is likely to put an end to GM crop-growing in this country for “the foreseeable future”, a spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

Concerned Residents of Wivenhoe, an anti-GM protesters' group which was set up in 2000 to oppose the growing of the crop at Sunnymead Farm, said it was delighted with the news.

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Spokesman Roger Mainwoodsaid: “This is great news and a vindication of our position. There was never going to be a market for this GM maize and commercial sense has now come in line with public opinion about GM crops which has been consistently opposed to their introduction into UK farming.

“We hope that the Government will now see that they need to turn their attention to further promotion of the organic farming sector in this country, a move which will be welcomed by the pubic and for which there is a very great demand.”

Jim Dutton, a Wivenhoe farmer who completed a GM trial in 2002, said he still believed in the potential for the crops but blamed the Government for Bayer's decision.

He said: “The Government will not come down either way in case they upset the electorate. The scientists showed GM was less harmful to the environment, but it is a case of keeping everyone happy.

“I am not growing maize any more - that was just for the trial - but Bayer have had a lot of people wanting to grow it, but unfortunately that is not to be.”

GM crops were also trialled in Weeley near Clacton, but farmer William Leiperdeclined to comment on his results.

Brenda Rooney, of the Weeley Against Genetic Exploitation group, said: “There have been enough people, including scientists, saying the crops are not a good idea. You just need to look at the trials there have been in Canada and America which have had very bad results.

“I won't be surprised if the Government tries to go ahead with this, but the more delay, the better.”

Bayer CropScience said Government-imposed conditions would stall GM maize production for too long.

It said in statement: “The specific details of these conditions are still not available and thus will result in yet another 'open-ended' period of delay. These uncertainties and undefined timelines will make this five-year old variety economically non-viable.'

Defending the Government's stance on GM maize, environment minister Elliot Morley said: "We do not apologise for the fact there is a tough EU-wide regulatory regime on GMs. It applies to the whole of the EU not just the UK.”

He added: "We always said it would be for the market to decide the viability of growing and selling GM once Government assessed safety and risk. “

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