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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 October, 2003, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
Trials 'back GM-free stance'
Protesters among GM crops
Protesters invaded the GM crop trial field in Flintshire
The results of a three-year government trial on GM crops has been welcomed by the Welsh Assembly Government as supporting its aim of creating a GM free Wales.

The scientific study into the impact of genetically-modified crops shows some could cause a long-term decline in the number of bees, butterflies and birds in Wales.

However, one GM crop - fodder maize - actually brought about an increase in the diversity of farmland wildlife.

Environment Minister Carwyn Jones said the results appeared to support the assembly's restrictive approach to GM crops.

Plaid Cymru meanwhile have said the results show GM crops " are not safe" and have urged the government to put a complete ban on them.

The assembly had fought with a Flintshire farmer who decided to hold a trial of GM crops on his land and refused to back down despite a direct plea from Mr Jones.

The fact that different results were found for each crop emphasises the importance of case by case risk assessments
Dr Brian Johnson

It would appear that the outcome of the trials supports the assembly stance of taking the most restrictive approach to planting GM crops, said the minister.

Plaid Cymru's European leader Jill Evans said: " Now there is hard evidence of the dangers GMOs pose, the government must back down and take this opportunity to announce a ban on GMOs in the UK"

Environmental groups have also called for further research following the results of the nearly 300 trials around the UK.

The Countryside Council for Wales said the results show that if GM crops were grown commercially in the UK there would be further declines in farmland wildlife.

"The fact that different results were found for each crop emphasises the importance of case by case risk assessments," said Dr Brian Johnson, biotechnology adviser to the British nature conservation agencies.

Commercialisation

Environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth said the results show that the Welsh assembly has been correct in its stance on GM crops.

FoE said the results of the experiments did nothing to reassure the public that any GM crop is safe for cultivation or use in the UK.

It repeated its call for the assembly government to block commercialisation of GM in the UK.

Derek Moore, chief executive of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, said all six trusts would now be urging the Welsh Assembly Government and the UK Government to take note of the findings and help bring about a GM-free Wales.

"The results of the report suggest that this is the way we, here in Wales, should be going.

There was strong opposition to GM crops being grown in Wales
There was strong opposition to GM crops being grown in Wales

In fact, the whole of the European Union should be thinking the same thing," he said

There was uproar two years ago when, despite appeals from opponentd, Flintshire farmer John Cottle decided to take part in the trials.

The field where the crops of GM fodder maize was being cultivated was invaded by protesters who began ripping up the crop

A separate planned trial at Castle Cenlas Farm at Mathry in Pembrokeshire was abandoned.




SEE ALSO:
Tractor farmer leads protest
13 Oct 03  |  South West Wales
Q&A: GM crop trials
15 Oct 03  |  Science/Nature
GM crop wreckers convicted
02 Apr 03  |  Wales
Women deny wrecking GM crop
31 Mar 03  |  Wales


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