Up to 10 hectares of each test site will be planted with a GM variety and the rest with an equivalent non-GM crop. Researchers will study effects on weeds and insects as well as pollen transfer and cross pollination, said the ministry. Environment minister Michael Meacher reiterated that commercial growing of GM crops would not be permitted "until we are satisfied that there will be no unacceptable effects on the environment".
Environmental groups, which oppose the tests, reacted with dismay. "The whole process has been nothing short of genetic tyranny with an almost complete absence of consultation," said Greenpeace. Friends of the Earth accused the government of "gambling" with Britain's countryside. But industry organisation SCIMAC welcomed the decision, saying: "The public has a right to know the facts about this technology, based on objective scientific data".
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