Brussels, 31 Mar 2004
The German company Bayer CropScience has scrapped plans to cultivate its genetically modified (GM) forage maize variety Chardon LL in the UK, citing government constraints for making it 'economically non viable'.
The company was the only one authorised to grow GM maize in the UK, and the government believes that Bayer's decision not to press ahead with commercialisation means that it is unlikely that GM crops will be grown in the UK for the 'foreseeable future'.
In a statement issued by Bayer CropScience on 31 March, the company welcomes the UK government's policy announcement on GM food and crops, published at the beginning of March. The government announcement had confirmed that Chardon LL was both safe and effective, argues Bayer, which they regarded as 'a positive step towards the development of plant biotechnologies in the UK.'
'The government has, however, placed a number of constraints on this conditional approval before the commercial cultivation of GM forage maize can proceed in the UK,' the statement continues. 'The specific details of these conditions are still not available and thus will result in yet another open-ended period of delay. These uncertainties and undefined timelines will make this five year old variety economically unviable.'
However, UK Environment Minister Elliot Morley reportedly defended the government's approach to the commercialisation of GM maize. 'We do not apologise for the fact that there is a tough EU-wide regulatory regime on GMs. It applies to the whole of the EU, not just the UK,' he said.
'We always said it would be for the market to decide the viability of growing and selling GM once the government assessed safety and risk. [The Prime Minister's] strategy unit report on the costs and benefits of GM last year did say there would be limited short term commercial benefits in the UK for growing GM,' Mr Morley concluded.