Governments order removal of GM crops

France, Sweden, to require destruction of oilseed rape; sowing revealed in Luxembourg

The Swedish and French governments have ordered the destruction of oilseed rape crops contaminated with low levels of genetically modified (GM) material, putting pressure on the UK, Germany and Norway to follow suit. Meanwhile, the Luxembourg agriculture ministry said yesterday that the contaminated variety had also been planted there, bringing to six the number of countries now known to have been affected.

Sweden's decision, which had been expected for some days, was announced yesterday. Today, the French government followed suit in an apparent U-turn after agriculture minister Jean Glavany said on Monday that there was no question of ripping out the crops.

In a statement, the prime minister's office recalled that no commercial cultivation of the crop species had been authorised because of risks of gene transfer to related plants. Steps had been taken to "preserve the interests" of the farmers concerned, the statement went on.

According to a report in today's Financial Times newspaper, the French office of Advanta, the company that imported the seeds to Europe, indicated yesterday that it might compensate farmers, while continuing to oppose destruction. ENDS Daily sought confirmation today, but none of the company's offices in France, the UK or the Netherlands, its European headquarters, was able to respond.

European environmental groups have continued to call for tough action by governments as the scandal has spread. Greenpeace has threatened court action in Germany and the UK, alleging that the contaminated crop planted constitute an offence. Meanwhile, Green MEPs today called for the EU to impasse an immediate import ban on all GM commodities "until a proper EU-wide inspection procedure is brought in at all points of entry".

Follow Up:
French prime minister's office, tel: +33 1 42 75 80 00; Swedish agriculture ministry, tel: +46 8 405 1000; Greenpeace International, tel: +31 20 523 6222; Greens in the European Parliament, tel: +32 2 284 4863.

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