GM potato trial to change sites as farmer fears for personal security

Safety issues highlighted as GM potato trial to be relocated.

Grower has learnt that the reason a GM potato trial had to be relocated from an approved site was due to the participating farmer’s concerns for his personal security. The move forced BASF Plant Science to go back to the Government last week to request a change from the previously approved site in Draycott, Derbyshire. BASF has told DEFRA that it proposes to conduct trials at a new location in Yorkshire. DEFRA gave approval in December for the company to undertake research trials in England of a GM potato at two sites — the other being in Cambridgeshire. A BASF representative said: “The farmer had one or two issues linked to personal security, so he decided he did not want the trials held on his land.” DEFRA issued a statement inviting the public to make representations to be posted on its website. It said: “DEFRA will be considering this as a new application in accordance with the Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) Regulations 2002. But before deciding on this it will consider any representations that people may wish to make about the risk of environmental damage posed by the GM trial.” A public notice placed in The Times gave the location as East Yorkshire for trials between April and November 2007, and subsequent years until 2011. The trials aim to develop potatoes resistant to Phytophthora infestans, a fungal organism that produces late blight. The BASF representative added: “We are continuing to undertake all the requirements put on us by the legislators.” The Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) has made an initial assessment of the proposed location. It has provisionally concluded that the change does not affect its earlier opinion that the trials do not raise any safety concerns as far as human health and the environment are concerned. * Details of the proposed new trial site and an invitation to make public representations will be posted on www.defra.gov.uk. The deadline for those wishing to make representations is 20 April.

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