1st GE seed on UK national seed list


Aventis’ T25 fodder maize is about to become the first GE crop to pass the final regulatory hurdle before commercialisation in Britain. T25, also known as Chardon LL, is genetically engineered to be resistant to Aventis’ (formerly AgrEvo) patented glufosinate ammonium herbicide, that is marketed under the trade name Liberty. Inclusion of T25 the National Seed List will allow Aventis to market this biotech seed as soon as the biotech industry ends its “voluntary moratorium”.

The government has been maintaining that the decision on whether to allow commercial planting of biotech crops would be delayed until after their farm scale trials are completed in 2003. Allowing biotech seeds to be included on the seed list means this decision has already been made- in favour of the industry. To remove the seed from the list would require an act of parliament; thus commercialisation will be a fait acomplis.

The government had been having problems convincing the Welsh parliament to accept the maize. Most Welsh people would obviously prefer Wales to be GE-free, but last week the Welsh agriculture secretary Christine Gwyther capitulated to Westminster pressure and ignored her own advisory committee by announcing her approval for the maize to be added to the list.

There are at least another 23 GE varieties currently heading for approval, several of these could be added to the seed list as early as this spring or summer. Once again the government, in cahoots with the biotech industry, are trying to use stealth to creep in GE crops hoping nobody will notice. A big outcry about T25 could put them off allowing the inclusion of other GE crops on the seed list, but if you want to use the official complaints procedure you will have to pay ?30 to write a written complaintor ?60 for the privilege of attending a hearing, perhaps something a bit more direct is called for.