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Tuesday, 24 July, 2001, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
New GM crop trials unveiled
Oilseed rape
The GM trial sites are around England
The government has announced a new round of 26 genetically modified crop trials around England.

The decision has been criticised by environmental campaigners over the levels of consultation with local communities.

Sowing of the GM oilseed rape is expected from 20 August through to mid-September, depending on weather and soil conditions.

Separation distances between trial sites and nearby fields will remain at 50 metres for conventional oilseed rape varieties despite concern from environmental groups over GM pollen contaminating neighbouring crops.

In the trials, scientists are studying the effects of specific herbicides associated with the GM crops compared with their conventional equivalents.

Campaigners break into a field of GM crops
Campaigners have targeted GM trial sites
Researchers will monitor the number of weeds, bees, butterflies and beetles in trial fields.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the seeds and plants being used had been through years of strict tests in laboratories, greenhouses and small plots of land.

Defra said the chances of cross-pollination were fewer than one per cent but admitted pollen transfer could not be ruled out completely.

Where organic oilseed rape is present a separation distance of 200 metres applies.

Location of test sites
Lincolnshire: five
East Riding of Yorkshire: two
Durham: three
Herefordshire: one
Hertfordshire: one
Dorset: two
Gloucestershire: two
Shropshire: two
Nottinghamshire: one
Norfolk: three
Warwickshire: one
Cheshire: one
Oxfordshire: one
Kent: one
Peter Riley, from Friends of the Earth, said: "Oilseed rape pollen travels miles and neighbouring crops could be cross-pollinated, leaving farmers the problem of selling a contaminated crop."

Earlier this year, the Environment Minister, Michael Meacher, was forced to apologise for failing to consult local farmers over a GM crop trial in Low Burnham, North Lincolnshire.

The site is 15 miles from a new trial site at North Kelsey announced in the latest round.

Mr Riley added: "Government ministers have been paying lipservice to consultation but when it comes to the crunch, it simply does not happen.

"The farm-scale trials should not proceed until the whole community have agreed how or if genetic pollution can be controlled and what is or isn't acceptable."

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01 Mar 01 | UK
GM trials spark fresh row
16 Jul 00 | UK
GM protestors invade field
30 May 00 | UK
NFU may sue over GM blunder
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