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Genetically Modified Food Researchers Want Crop Trial Locations Kept Secret

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: GM foods, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) Scientists involved in the genetic modification of food crops have called on the British government to pass laws making experimental crop test sites secret.

Currently, European Union rules require that all test plot locations for genetically modified (GM) crops be made public. According to senior researchers, this information is frequently used by protesters seeking to disrupt the trials. The consistent sabotage of GM test sites has led to a steep drop in such research in the United Kingdom. According to Jim Dunwell of Reading University, there has been only one application for a GM crop trial in the making them in 2008, compared to an average of 20 to 30 per year back in the late 1990s.

For those still in the GM research business, fear of sabotage has driven up costs.

"We now have 24-hour security, we have fences around materials," said Wayne Powell of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany in Cambridge.

Critics of GM foods have opposed the move to make the trials secret.

"Friends of the Earth would have deep concerns about making them secret because of the potential risks that they pose," said Claire Oxborough of Friends of the Earth. "[These crops] are at the very early stages of development - we don't know the impact they'll have on the environment and on health, and very often these trials are not set up to look at that."

The public needs to be well informed about GM crop trials in order to carefully monitor them for potential risks, Oxborough said.

"What you don't want to do is get into a situation where in rural communities you have an air of distrust - rumors, speculation going on because no one knows what their neighbors might be growing," she said. "We need transparency - we need to know where these field trials are taking place so that farmers and the public can be adequately protected."

Sources for this story include: news.bbc.co.uk.

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