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Organic news archive: March 2004

Bayer can't blame Government for GM maize withdrawal.

The Soil Association accused Bayer on 31/03/04 of being deceitful when they put the whole blame for their withdrawal of GM maize on the UK Government.

Peter Melchett, the Soil Association's policy director, said "Bayer are blaming their withdrawal of GM maize from the UK on 'regulatory hurdles' imposed by the British Government. In fact they have been caught out by their own, inaccurate hype.

"GM companies have always claimed that GM crops need less chemical sprays. In the three-year farm scale trials Bayer's GM maize was grown with the use of one weed-killing spray. But Soil Association research in the USA and Canada had already shown that GM maize grown commercially needed at least two weedkillers. Indeed, GM companies in America are even selling branded mixtures of weed killing sprays to farmers growing their GM crops, so they can hardly deny that several sprays are often needed.

"Unfortunately for Bayer, the British Government took them at their word, and said that their GM maize could only be grown using one weedkiller. Based on experience in North America, Bayer know that won't work in practice. In these circumstances, its really not surprising that Bayer have withdrawn the GM maize, effectively ending the prospect of any GM crops being grown in the UK for the foreseeable future." (Soil Association - 31/3/04)

Bayer, the only remaining biotech company that's been trying to get its crops grown in the UK, has just withdrawn the one variety that got approved! This means that there'll be no attempts to grow GM in the UK for at least four years, and even then it'll be an uphill struggle... So that's it then. No GM in the UK. Woooooohooooooooo!! (Bayer CropScience - 31/3/04)

The Ecologist explains 'why GM maize should not be grown in the UK'. (http://www.theecologist.org/article.html?article=453)

McDonald's has reported a 26 per cent increase in milk sales since changing its milk supply to organic less that a year ago, signalling a huge sales opportunity for other retailers. (The Western Daily Press)

Ministers are threatening to take unprecedented steps under the devolution agreements with Scotland and Wales to ensure that they accept GM crops. Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for the Environment, made it clear last week that the devolved administrations - which are much more sceptical about the technology than the Westminster government - could not have a veto on planting GM maize across Britain. Her move, immediately described by environmentalists as "bullying", is bound to lead to a storm of protests in both devolved assemblies, where GM crops have become an explosive political issue, and could cause a constitutional crisis. (The Independent on Sunday - 14/03/04)

Genetically engineered corn has made its way into Mexican fields from modified American seeds and could ultimately displace native corn varieties unless the government moves to protect them, a multinational panel of researchers warned Thursday. So little is known about the potential effect of altered corn in Mexico that risks to the country's 60 corn varieties and the larger ecosystem are unpredictable, said the panel, convened by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation set up under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Much of the concern is that contamination of native varieties would limit future possibilities of developing improved crop lines from corn that is now completely free of genetic modification. (New York Times 12/03/04)

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