Wageningen UR needs to disclose the exact locations of its experimental fields for genetically modified crops. Greenpeace says this is stated in a recent court ruling of the Council of State.
Herman van Bekkem, Greenpeace campaign leader for gene technology and sustainable agriculture, feels that the ruling will affect all test fields with genetically modified organisms, including those belonging to Wageningen UR. Greenpeace has taken up tens of such cases with the State Council. Van Bekkem: ‘This is the first of a series of cases brought before the State Council. The cases also include twelve Wageningen UR locations. For example, a Monsanto test field is located at the Bizonweg in Lelystad. Even test fields in Wageningen itself and in Groningen do not conform to the European guidelines. We are expecting the verdicts soon.’
The consequences of this increased openness are negligible, according to Dr. Bert Lotz of Plant Research International. Lotz is the manager of communications of the DuRPh project, which aims to cultivate potatoes with genetically modified resistance to phytophtora. ‘In fact, there will be no implications at all since maximum openness is what we want too. If the government wants us to be accurate to the square millimeter, we’ll do that.’
VROM wants vagueness
Lotz feels that researchers do not need to be vague about the locations of test fields. ‘That’s the government’s policy and it has its priorities. As researchers, we have chosen to heed other considerations. Maximum transparency is the way to go for research.’ Lotz does not expect protestors to aim their shots at the experiments of DuRPh. ‘Our tests are concerned with cisgenesis: the transfer of closely related genes. Its risks are well-known, and so too are its advantages for the environment.’ However, Wageningen UR has more genetech fields than those of DuRPh. /RK