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UK - Bayer withdraws GM Maize

http://tinyurl.com/2pal7 [Financial Times]
Beckett is blamed as Bayer bins GM plan
By John Mason, Food and Rural Affairs Correspondent
Published: March 30 2004 21:55 | Last Updated: March 30 2004 21:55

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.

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