Brussels, 30 Sep 2005
A follow-up study to the UK's farm scale evaluations (FSE) of genetically modified (GM) crops has found that the impacts on wildlife observed in the initial results can persist for two years.
In the original farm-scale evaluations, scientists studied the effects on biodiversity of four GM species - spring oilseed rape, winter oilseed rape, sugar beet and maize. They concluded that while GM spring rape and sugar beet are more harmful to the environment than their conventional equivalents, GM maize is actually better for biodiversity.
Having continued to monitor the amount of weed seeds in the soil of these crops, the new study suggests that the original results observed for GM rape and maize continue to persist for up to two years. Interestingly, in those areas sown with sugar beet that had seen a decline in the weed seedbank during the original study, the follow-up analysis suggests a partial recovery of the seedbank has taken place.
'The news confirms our impression of what would happen when we released the initial results,' Les Firbank, the FSE project coordinator told the BBC News website. 'We did expect the differences to persist.'
However, Dr Firbank does not believe that the new results will affect any decisions on approving GM crops in the UK. Following the initial FSE results, the government indicated that it would approve cultivation of the GM maize crop used in the study. However, its manufacturer, Bayer, decided not to press ahead with authorisation of the variety in Europe, and since then Member States in the Council of Ministers have been unable to reach a decision on GM authorisations.
For further information, please consult the following web address:
http:///www.pubs.royalsoc.ac.uk/bio_ let_h ome_link_3.shtml