E-mail this article to
yourself or a friend.
Enter address:


Beckett blamed as Bayer abandons GM corn variety

(Wednesday, March 31, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- John Mason, Financial Times, 03/30/04: Bayer Cropscience is giving up attempts to commercialise GM maize - the only transgenic plant to have approval for widespread cultivation.

The German biotechnology company will on Wednesday announce its maize variety Chardon LL had been left "economically non-viable" because of conditions Margaret Beckett, environment secretary, imposed when she gave it limited approval this month.

Chardon LL was developed for approval in 1999 but, as the controversy over genetically modified crops slowed its introduction, it lost its edge against rival varieties.

Bayer warned that the UK's tough GM regulatory regime could jeopardise the adoption of the technology. It said: "New regulations should enable GM crops to be grown in the UK - not disable future attempts to grow them".

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: "We do not apologise for the fact there is a tough EU-wide regulatory regime on GMs."

Bayer's decision to withdraw the crop from the UK and other European markets means GM crops are unlikely to be grown in the UK until 2008, when GM oil seed rape may be approved for cultivation.

Chardon LL gained approval after trials showed it caused less damage to wildlife than conventional varieties, but ministers have yet to decide rules for mixing GM and non-GM crops and compensation for contamination by GM pollen.

Bayer said: "These uncertainties and undefined timelines will make this five-year old variety economically unviable".

Bayer insisted it was committed to GM crops in the UK and the rest of Europe. It is trying to improve farming practices for GM oil seed rape to make it less environmentally damaging.

Monsanto, its US rival, is making similar efforts to overcome the environmental handicaps of sugar beet.