link to today's articles on the AEBC report via http://www.organicts.com/newsnow/Organic.html
Advisers warn GM crop tests 'not final piece in jigsaw'
The Guardian - UK
'Secrecy' over GM crops attacked
Telegraph - UK - see below
GM crop trials 'flawed'
BBC - UK
Advisers warn GM trials are inadequate
The Independent - UK
'Wider debate needed' on GM crops
Ananova - News
Report attacks secrecy over GM crop trials
The Herald - Glasgow
'Secrecy' over GM crops attacked
By Sandra Barwick
THE way in which genetically modified crop field trials were introduced to Britain has been condemned as "secretive" and badly organised by the Government's main advisory body on biotechnology.
There was an absence of consultation, very short notification before trials were started and "particularly unfortunate locations", according to the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission.
Trials of GM crops should continue only if there is effective local consultation around sites, it says, and if enough distance is set to protect the interests of all parties in the area, including organic farmers.
The Government should confirm that no commercial cultivation of GM crops will take place until the trials are complete and the results evaluated with a wide range of other evidence, including the concerns raised by the public.
Trials in fields, known as farm-scale evaluations (FSEs), began with a pilot project in 1999. They have proved highly controversial and many crops have been destroyed by environmental activists.
In May a furore forced the abandonment of a planned trial of GM maize two miles from the organic Henry Doubleday research centre, near Coventry.
Last September, in an indication of public feeling on the issue, a jury cleared Lord Melchett, former executive director of Greenpeace, and others of criminal damage to a GM maize crop after they said they had lawful excuse to attack it.
The report, Crops on Trial, says: ."We suspect that, far from offering reassurance, experience of the FSEs has tended to fuel further concerns."
The commission was set up in June last year to look at developments in biotechnology which have implications for agriculture and the environment. Its chairman is Prof Malcolm Grant.
The report says that even if GM crops are approved for commercial cultivation in Britain, they must continue to be monitored because the effects on wildlife from large scale cultivation and the impact of long-term use will not be known.
It recommends that the new Policy Commission on Farming and Food should consider managing the relationship in the future between farmers who want to grow organic or GM-free crops and others who want to exploit the technology.
In particular, the commission must look at how the genetic purity of seed can be maintained. "The future compatibility of different forms of agriculture appears to be at stake."
Workshops, public debates and consensus conferences should be held around the country to discuss the issues.
The report was welcomed by Friends of the Earth. Pete Riley, a food campaigner, said: "The GM trials have been far more about politics than rigorous science." The Government should abandon further trials until it had addressed the issues of contamination and liability, he said. "They should recognise that they cannot impose GM crops and food on a public which quite obviously does not want them."Charlie Kronick, the chief policy adviser to Greenpeace, said the report showed that so many concerns had been identified about GM crops that trials should be stopped at once while evaluation and debate took place. He said: "The Government has its policies and priorities backwards. GM food leads you down the road to intensive farming when the whole country, not to mention Europe, is looking in the exact opposite direction."