Farmers in France and Germany have been forced to destroy over 20,000 hectares of oilseed rape crop after traces of a genetically modified (GM) variety that is not authorised for cultivation in Europe was found in Dekalb seed stocks.
Bayer, who own the Dekalb brand, issued a product recall in the autumn but 18,000ha in France and 2150ha in Germany had already been drilled.
The GM seed variety carrying the GT73 trait, typically grown in Canada, was present in three batches of OSR seed, and although it is not authorised for production in Europe, it can be used in imported food and animal feed.
Spokesperson for Bayer, Holger Elfes says: “We are still investigating how this happened. In Argentina where the seed is sourced there is no such growing of GM oilseed rape and the factory processing the seed in France does not process any GM crop seeds so we have not found the source yet.”
Bayer has immediately stopped all OSR production in Argentina and almost all growers in France who were affected by the contamination have accepted compensation of €2000/ha, while compensation for German growers is still being finalised.
Those affected will not be able to grow oilseed rape on contaminated land for fear of re-emergence of the GM strain.
Mr Elfes assured that no UK seed has been contaminated.