UK could ban genetic crops for three years
LONDON, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Britain is considering a three-year
moratorium on the commercial planting of genetically modified crops, the Independent
newspaper said on Saturday.
It said the government had on Friday summoned the heads of biotechnology
companies based in Britain, including the U.S. giant **Monsanto** <MTC.N,
for talks about a voluntary code which would delay wide-scale planting of the
crops till 2002.
The newspaper said the recommendations from the meeting would be passed
onto Environment Minister Michael Meacher and Food Minister Jeff Rooker,
who would then decide what to do.
Critics of genetically modified crops -- engineered to resist pests or
tolerate extra herbicide -- say the crops could damage human health and
spread their genes to the environment.
The Independent said the government's wildlife adviser believed the
whole process should be halted to allow research into the crops' possible
effects on the environment.
"Some groups have said they want to move to a moratorium. The purpose
of this meeting is to let both sides voice their opinions," the paper quoted a
**Monsanto** spokesman as saying.
"Once these have been gathered, it is up to Mr Meacher to take a view.
We had not planned commercial planting of crops till 2000."
The paper said Britain's first bioengineered crop, a rape oilseed that
can survive being dosed with a specific weedkiller, was due to be grown and
harvested next year.
It also said the government had begun studying whether it could
reverse a European Union decision which cleared the crop for growth in EU member