London (April 20th, 2005) – The National Institute of Agricultural Botany in Cambridge is playing a key role in a research programme that could lay the groundwork for mass GM farming across Europe.

NIAB will hire both scientific and non-scientific staff to meet the demand from the CO-EXTRA programme. It is worth almost £800k to NIAB over four years, with funding from the EU and the UK Government.

Lumora, a University of Cambridge spin-off, is also involved: it will provide a quick and easy method in the field for detecting the presence of GM crops.

CO-EXTRA has 51 partners and is the largest GM research project running in Europe. It will draw together all the information on GM crops and share it with people in the agriculture and food industries as the basis for a more informed debate.

NIAB’s role is to draw up a checklist for the whole of the agricultural industry to help growers, seed producers and farmers make sound decisions on whether or not to become involved in GM crop production in the future.

Dr Lydia Smith, a member of the NIAB project team, said: “If GM crops are to be grown, there needs to be a viable way for the whole farming community so that it doesn’t affect non-GM growers.

“We will be in discussion with every sector of the agricultural industry to ensure everyone is aware of both the benefits and the problems involved in growing GM crops. This is a massive task, but it is one that must be undertaken if Europe is to have an informed debate on this subject.”

NIAB has set to work a team of 15 scientists and technicians to look at:

• The steps necessary for the co-existence of GM and non-GM crops to work;
• Keeping GM produce separate from non-GM produce;
• Crop rotation systems.


Lautaro Vargas (17 April 2005). Cambridge role in GM crop probe. BUSINESS WEEKLY ( Reproduced with permission


  A key research programme in Cambridge