After genetically modified potatoes, now GM maize in Wetteren

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Late in May this year activists of the Field Liberation Movement in Wetteren invaded a field planted with GM potatoes, where they managed to destroy some of the seedlings. The initiator of the experiment, the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology VIB, was not put out by these actions and has in fact started preparations on their next trial, with maize this time, announced VIB spokesman René Custers. He is quite aware that this could lead to more opposition again, but this time protestors' arguments against GM maize may have lost some ground. The GM potatoes cultivated by the University of Wageningen were linked to the chemical concern BASF, but this time the product has no business connections whatsoever, as the Ghent institute will finance the entire project. Once the experiment shows positive results, some business will undoubtedly want to come on board to market the product. “But there is no danger that non-GM plants will be pollinated by these plants. We plan to remove the male plume,” Custers explains. The VIB has already conducted hothouse experiments on the GM maize. It grows about 10% higher and is thinner to facilitate denser planting. “We plan to try it in an open field to check the yield as this cannot be determined in a hothouse,” says Custers. The VIB has so far approached the federal Minister for Health, Laurette Onkelinx PS and State Secretary for the Environment, Melchior Wathelet CDH. If  given the go-ahead, trials running over three seasons can commence in April next year.

1 Comment To This Article

  • Steven posted:

    on 22nd December 2011, 20:18:46 - Reply

    There seems to be a lot of mist sprayed around this maize. Are they meant to increase maize yields for the feedstock-industry? Or are they intented to become the flagship of the research center 'Ghent Bio-Economy', that works in close collaboration with the industrial consortium 'Ghent Bio Energy Valley'? They are dreaming of becoming world leader in the production of bio ethanol and biogas. And what about the link with BASF, that has a longstanding intense scientific collaboration with the University of Ghent and VIB, in exactly the same field: the search for 'climate ready' genes that would boost the biofuels industry? Who are the stakeholders behind this new maize demonstration field?