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The BBC's Tom Fielden
"The government and bio-tech industries have been very cagey"
 real 28k

Stephen Smith, Scimac
"It will give information on the impact of GM crops"
 real 28k

Lady Warnock
"Huge global consequences if it goes wrong"
 real 28k

Saturday, 25 March, 2000, 10:02 GMT
Financial carrot for GM farmers
GM crops: Farmers will be paid a tidy sum for trials
Farmers who sign up to genetically-modified (GM) crop trials could make up to three times as much as they would from growing the equivalent conventional produce.

An investigation by Farmers Weekly found that a farmer who agreed to plant a 10 hectare section of GM oil seed rape would be paid 10,000.

The market value for the non-GM crop would only be 3,700.

Last week, Environment Minister Michael Meacher announced there would be more than 60 farm scale trials of GM crops this year.

Despite the generous payments, it seems the government is struggling to get enough farmers to take part in the trials. Only 30 have signed up so far.

Confidentiality clause

BBC environment correspondent Tom Fielden said the government and industry officials are reluctant to talk about the amount of money being paid to farmers because of a confidentiality clause.

However, they say the farmer is compensated at the market rate.

Meacher BBC
Meacher: 60 sites for GM trials
Stephen Smith, of the Supply Chain Initiative on Modified Agricultural Crops, (Scimac), said farmers will also be paid for the inconvenience and change of management practices.

The Scimac is a consortium for the agriculture industry which has supplied the names of willing farmers to the government.

He told the BBC: "All new agriculture has to be trialled. Farmers are always paid above and beyond market value because there are many areas in which they are inconvenienced."

He said Scimac had given the government more than 100 names of farmers willing to take part, although they knew some would back out.

The government has said there is still time for other farmers to sign up before trials begin next month.

Local opposition

Currently 30 have signed up with another six almost ready. But two farmers have dropped out citing local opposition as their reason.

Mr Smith called on the hysteria to die down so that farmers can get on with independent trials which would produce hard facts on GM crops.

He added: "This means we can go forward with good science principles and start generating data in which we can make good decisions about the impact of this material."

Seven trials carried out in 1999 proved extremely controversial - two being destroyed by protesters and one by the farmer himself.

Some environmentalists believe that a number of issues surrounding GM crops, such as the risk of cross-pollination of neighbouring crops and contamination of honey - have not been resolved.

Those who object to the tests have vowed to keep up the pressure during the current run of trials.

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See also:

17 Mar 00 | Sci/Tech
GM trial sites unveiled
17 Mar 00 | Sci/Tech
GM trials: The long hot summer
17 Mar 00 | Sci/Tech
Full list of GM crop sites
11 Nov 99 | Sci/Tech
GM crop trials leap in size
26 Aug 99 | UK Politics
GM crop trial suspended
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