Government Hearings into the first ever genetically modified (GM) seed listing involves two Oxford organisations - Oxygene and The GMO Campaign (see Note1 below) - who are appearing at the Hearings as objectors. The groups have taken part in this historic attempt to stop the first genetically modified (GM) crop in the UK gaining commercial approval.

The groups have objected to a proposal from the Ministry of Agriculture to allow GM maize (see Note2 below) - to be fed to cattle - to be added to the National Seed List. Unless it is stopped this will be the last hurdle before GM seed can be bought over the counter by farmers.

The GMO Campaign have arranged for controversial whistle-blower Dr Arpad Pusztai, bio-scientist Angela Ryan and Oxfordshire leading organic farmer Sir Julian Rose to take the stand as expert witnesses at the Hearings, which are being held at the Novotel Hotel in Hammersmith, London on Monday 23rd October. They will be cross-examined on the dangers of the technology, including this GM plant, on the National Seed List.

The Chairman of the Hearings, Barrister Alun Aylesbury, singled out Kathryn Tulip and Andrew Wood of Oxygene for special praise for the clarity with which they presented their evidence, which included 350 pages of detailed, cross-referenced documents, some of which are being referred to by other speakers.

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Under a seldom-used law, over 220 groups and individuals across the UK have paid £30 each to object; with 67 (reluctantly) forking out a further £60 to have their concerns heard in public. The hearings started in London on October 2nd 2000 (See Note 3 below).

Oxford GMO Campaign has objected to the listing of the GM maize for a number of reasons:

there have been no health studies conducted on cattle that might be fed the crop and little is known about potential impacts on human health through consumption of meat, milk and other animal products fed a GM diet (see Note 4 below);

the public have rejected buying GM foods and their concerns are being ignored;

GM pollen can contaminate non-GM fodder maize and sweetcorn crops grown nearby which will take away people's right to choose to eat GM-free food;

the present (many say misguided) trials which are meant to assess the impact of growing GM crops on wildlife will not even be completed for another three years.

Dr Pusztai debated the animal feed issue at a packed Oxford Union in June last year and carried the vote by more than 2:1 against the use of GM ingredients in UK animal feed.


1 The GMO Campaign is an Oxford-based organisation, founded by Sarah Brown, which organised the anti-GM march and Rally in Trafalgar Square in April 1999 and the Bournemouth GM Animal Feeds Rally in November

2 The GM maize has been genetically modified to be resistant to a herbicide made by the same company, Aventis.

3 The hearings will take place in London (at the Novotel Hotel, Hammersmith) and Manchester between October 2nd and December 8th.

4 Inclusion of imported GM material in livestock rations is now commonplace in UK farms. Most of the meat, milk, eggs, cheese and other animal products in this country are produced from GM animal feed, unbeknown to the general public.

Contact: GMO Campaign Oxford (01865) 513224

Mobile for press: 07775 698549