Highland Council
Not Happy With GM Crop Trials

22 August 2001

Caithness Community Web Site     Caithness.org News Index      


The Highland Council Convener David Green has warned the Scottish Executive they face a backlash from the Highland community for giving the go ahead to a second GM crop trial in the Black Isle. He argues the Executive should have followed a precautionary approach of delaying further experimentation until the results of a study into the first trial at Munlochy are known and until the local community is more fully consulted and informed about the process.
Councillor Green said: "It is not fair on the Black Isle community to have another trial imposed upon it when so many questions remain unanswered. I have absolutely no doubt that attitudes will now harden as the result of this decision. I relayed the strength of the local concern to the Rural Affairs Minister recently when I underlined the Councils view that no further trials should be approved until the Agriculture and Environmental Commission had reported on their findings of the first trial. This is a sensible precautionary approach. It is disappointing that this advice has been ignored."

Councillor David Alston, Black Isle North, in whose area the first trial was held, said: "For over a year The Highland Council has campaigned for greater openness and accountability on GM crop trials. We went to the Court of Session to try, unsuccessfully, to bring crop trials within the planning process; we brought the AEBC (Agriculture, Environment and Biotechnology Commission) to the Highlands to take evidence on the trial at Munlochy last year; and we have
established, through a Highland-wide survey, that the majority are opposed to both the crop trials and to future commercial growing of GMOs. In fact, even if there were additional safeguards, only 21% would support further trials. "We have a clear position based on the precautionary principle no more crop trials until the AEBC has reported and any concerns it raises have been addressed. Not only is public opinion in the Highlands strongly against further GM crop trials but Scottish Natural Heritage has raised specific concerns about the trials on this site. The oilseed rape in the trial is genetically modified to be resistant to the herbicide glufosinate ammonium. SNH have advised the Scottish Executive that SEPA should be consulted about the winter use of this herbicide something not normally permitted and this view has also been publicly expressed by SEPA itself.

"Ross Finnie has repeatedly said that he can only act on the scientific advice given to him. This appears to be clear advice, from his scientific advisers, that there are concerns, specific to this site, which have not been addressed."