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UK Suspends Testing of Genetically Modified Crops
(from August 19, 2002)

Since the UK government began field-testing genetically modified (GM) crops three years ago, fourteen fields have been contaminated with unauthorized oilseed rape in England and Scotland, according to The Independent. These findings have led officials to suspend the government's last stage of trail testing of GM crops on a "farm-scale" which was to begin this week.

The oilseed rape were illegally mixed with other GM seeds and are not licensed for planting or sale in Britain. Aventis (now Bayer CropScience) is the biotechnology company that produced the seeds with an extra gene that makes it resistant to two antibiotics, neomycin and kanamycin. The European Union has petitioned that GM plants containing the antibiotic resistant gene be phased out due to human and animal immunity concerns to antibiotic drugs.

The Independent states that Aventis could be charged with fines or a five-year prison sentence. While some argue that the twenty-three field trial sites should still be harvested at a time that minimizes seed shed, the test crops may have to be destroyed.