The debate on Genetically Modified (GM) crops is often a polarised one with environmentalists and the majority of sceptical consumers against the crops and powerful corporate interests attempting to steamroller all opposition. Now those companies may be in for a serious setback, as scientific tests devised by the UK Government and GM companies look set to say that GM crops are environmentally unsafe.
GM maize was one of the crops tested in the UK.
Leaked results of field trials involving 3 GM crops have shown
them to be more harmful to the enviornment than conventional
varieties. The trials involved maize, sugar beet and oilseed rape.
The crops, developed by Monsanto and Bayer, are modified to resist
herbicide produced by the same companies. This allows farmers to
eradicate all weeds from fields of GM crops.
Compared to the fields treated in the conventional way the GM
trial fields contained much less wildlife because the herbicides
kill all weeds in the fields, leaving no food for farmland insects.
While bugs in crops might not sound so important, they are the
basis of the food chain in agricultural land. So without them it is
not long before songbirds and other larger countryside animals
start to disappear.
Only GM maize seems to have less effect on wildlife because
conventional maize is treated with herbicides even more powerful
than the Bayer product sprayed on the GM maize. However US farmers
have found that they must spray GM maize with highly toxic
herbicides like Atrazine to stop yields suffering due to weed
The results will be formally announced on October 16 but if the
leak is accurate it will be a major setback for the GM lobby.
Already the EU health commissioner, David Byrne, has indicated that
a threat to British wildlife from GM crops would be sufficient
grounds for the UK Government to ban the growing of such crops.
The leaked results are also significant because Europe is the
centre of genetic diversity for both oilseed rape and sugar beet.
If GM versions of these crops were planted commercially throughout
the EU there would be inevitable and irreversible contamination of
Now the ball is firmly in the court of governments like the UK
and the EU. Will they choose for the interests of the public and
the environment or for profits of big business and US Government
Find out more about the
US legal case to force GM on Europe.
original leak story on the Guardian.