26 May 2002
GM threat to organic farming
By Geoffrey Lean Environment Editor
Organic farming will be forced out of production in Britain and across Europe if GM crops are grown commercially, a startling new EU report concludes.
The report which is
so controversial that top EC officials tried to stop it being made public
shows that organic farms will become so contaminated by genes from
the new crops that
Drawn up as a result of two
years of studies in Britain, France, Italy and Germany, it provides
The conclusion is politically explosive because the demand for organic produce is increasing rapidly across Europe, while consumer resistance to GM food has forced supermarkets not to stock it.
The Director General of the EC's Joint Research Centre, which produced the report, submitted it with a letter saying: "In view of the sensitivity of the issue, I would suggest that the report be kept for internal use within the Commission only."
Publication of the findings
is embarrassing for the Government. On Friday the Prime Minister
The report which follows
a study by the European Environment Agency warning that genes
It found that even if only a tenth of a country or region was planted with them far less that the 54 per cent of Canada now under GM crops keeping contamination at a level that would allow organic farming to continue would be "extremely difficult for any farm-crop combination in the scenarios considered".
It adds that when contamination occurred every year through "the wide-ranging cultivation of GM crops" in an area "organic farms will lose their organic status and face severe problems to grow their crops according to the regulations given by the EU".
GM farmers would also be at risk, it added, because organic farmers might well be entitled to compensation.
Yesterday, Adrian Bebb, food
campaigner of Friends
of the Earth, said: "This report shows