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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 June, 2003, 05:50 GMT 06:50 UK
Timeline: Scotland's GM crops
Crop field
Crop trials have been met with protests
BBC News Online Scotland looks at the controversial history of GM crop trials north of the border.

March 2000: The first farm-scale evaluation (FSE) of GM crops in Scotland is announced. The trial site at Daviot in Aberdeenshire is one of 60 sites across the UK.

The UK government says that until the three-year trial is complete there will be no commercial growing of GM, but calls for Scotland to be GM-free are rejected.

May 2000: GM seeds are sown in Scotland by accident in a batch of seeds from Canadian company Advanta. It is estimated that 5,000 hectares are sown in Scotland. It emerges that the error was discovered in April but the UK government waited a month to tell the Scottish Executive.

June 2000: Flaws are discovered in the GM crop trials. Conventional crops planted as a "control" in neighbouring fields are contaminated by a batch of GM seed.

August 2000: The second batch of GM oilseed rape trials begin at sites in Aberdeenshire and at Munlochy on the Black Isle.

Environment Minister Ross Finnie
Ross Finnie came under fire from his own party
Highland Council tries to block the Munlochy trial but fails in its attempt to make it subject to local planning regulations because the land has changed its use to research instead of agriculture.

September 2000: UK Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy backs the Munlochy protesters but his party colleague in Scotland, Environment Minister Ross Finnie, says that he cannot refuse the trial unless there is scientific evidence of risk to health.

March 2001: Third set of GM oilseed rape trials is announced.

April 2001: A trial at Auldearn near Nairn in the Highlands is cancelled after the farmer receives threats.

September 2001: The fourth round of trials begins at sites in Aberdeenshire and Munlochy.

January 2002: Spring GM oilseed rape trials at Daviot in Aberdeenshire and at Newport-on-Tay in Fife take the number of Scots farms to take part in the trials to 12.

April 2002: The Scottish Parliament's environment committee votes by five to four to scrap trials at Munlochy, but the Scottish Executive says the decision is not based on science.

Mr Finnie comes under fire at his party's conference in Perth. The Scottish Lib Dems vote in favour of a moratorium on GM crops despite the minister's insistence that he does not have the power to enforce the ban.
Crop field
A public debate is being held in the UK

August 2002: Serious breach in crop trials. Tests show that 3% of oilseed rape plants contain slightly different GM structure to the one authorised for the trials.

September 2002: The Scottish Parliament's health committee launches an inquiry into the effects on humans of GM crop trials.

January 2003: The health committee report says it has serious doubts over risk assessment procedures.

MSPs also voice concern over monitoring procedures and call on the Scottish Executive to do more to examine the effects on human health near GM crop trial areas.

March 2003: Mr Finnie rejects the recommendations of the health committee and says its report is "fundamentally flawed".

June 2003: The GM Nation? debate comes to Scotland as a public meeting is held in Glasgow.


SEE ALSO:
GM debate 'asks wrong question'
11 Jun 03  |  Scotland
Public debate on GM crops begins
03 Jun 03  |  Science/Nature
Public 'needs voice' on GM issue
03 Jun 03  |  Science/Nature
GM protesters cut down crop
18 May 03  |  Scotland


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