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Genetically Modified Crops and Risk Assessment in the UK

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Three subjects concerning biotechnology are currently very topical in the UK; farm-scale evaluations, gene flow to organic crops, and strategic discussions on biotechnology. The aim of the farm-scale evaluations running from 1999-2003 is to assess the impact on farmland wildlife of changes in farming practices associated with commercialisation of particular GM herbicide tolerant crops. The results will not be available until 2003, but the experiments have highlighted a number of important questions about how we judge the significance of environmental impacts in agriculture. The pollination of organic crops by GM crops has proved contentious and has raised important issues about ways of accommodating different forms of agriculture, and the extent to which it is reasonable for one sector of agriculture to declare zero tolerance of another. In 2000, a new Commission was established in the UK to provide Government with independent strategic advice on developments in biotechnology. This is proving a very challenging and stimulating opportunity to debate the future of agricultural biotechnology.
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Keywords: coexistence; gene flow; genetically modified crops; organic farming; risk assessment

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2003

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