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Last Updated: Monday, 14 May 2007, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
Go-ahead given for GM trial site
The firm said planting would not start until at least next year
Ministers have approved a site in East Yorkshire for GM potato trials.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs agreed to allow biotech company BASF Plant Science to test the plants at a farm in Hedon.

The company will have the licence to carry out the experiments until 2011, it was announced on Monday.

A BASF spokeswoman said the firm would not start the tests until at least next year after having discussions with neighbouring farmers.

Shelved plans

Environmental campaigners criticised the government's decision to go ahead with the plans.

BASF was also given permission in December for similar tests in Cambridgeshire and Derbyshire.

However, it later shelved its Derbyshire plans over fears for the farmer's safety following anti-GM protests.

Planting of GM potatoes has already started in Cambridgeshire.

The BASF spokeswoman said the harvested potatoes would not be used for food or animal feed.

Potato blight

She said: "We have already done trials in the Netherlands and Sweden to see if the potato is resistant to potato blight. We are just testing it in the UK to see if the resistance works in the UK climate."

She added that independent experts at the Advisory Committee of Releases to the Environment evaluated the company's application for the Hedon site.

Friends of the Earth's GM campaigner, Clare Oxborrow, said: "The government has given the go-ahead to this GM potato trial despite widespread local opposition and fears about the impact on neighbouring borage farmers.

"We are pleased that the trial is not going ahead this year because concerns about the impact on local farmers have not been resolved.

"But the best solution would be to abandon the trial completely."

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