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Genetics news and press releases
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8th August 2000
There was another attack on the Aventis GM Maize crop at Wivenhoe, Essex. 7 people arrested on criminal damage charges.

BBC 20/7/00
GM crop arrests

Eleven people have been arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage after an attack on a test site for genetically modified crops.

The 15-acre field of GM maize at Wivenhoe, Essex, is being grown as part of a nationwide testing programme into GM crops.

The trial has been contentious since it was first announced in April.

A poll carried out in Wivenhoe to see whether residents wanted GM crops to be trialled locally, showed 88% did not.


New GM trial proposed
BBC Thursday, 20 July, 2000, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK

Protestors demonstrated outside the farm A second farm-scale trial of genetically modified crops is being planned for the north-east of Scotland.

The experiment has been revealed by the Department of the Environment on its website as one of only two new trials across the UK.

The notice gives a six-figure map reference and says the nearest village is Daviot, in Aberdeenshire, which is near the only other GM trial in Scotland.

The second trial, to begin this autumn, also involves oil seed rape.

Friends of the Earth Scotland director, Kevin Dunion, said: 'Once again, Scotland's environment is being targeted for use as an open-air laboratory. In their present form, farm-scale trials of oil seed rape present an unacceptable threat to the environment. Worse still, this trial will use a chemical otherwise banned for use during the winter because of the threat it poses to the environment.'

But a Scottish Executive spokesman said: "A decision on whether to give consent for the application to proceed will be made shortly by Scottish ministers, based on sound scientific advice from the independent Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment."


Crops attacked

European legislation gave the executive the power to withdraw consent at any time if evidence emerged of a threat to public health or the environment, he added. Last weekend, about 35 environmentalists staged a protest outside the farm near Daviot where the current trial is being held.

There have been three attacks on the crops in the space of a week.

Six people were arrested after the most recent incident and appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court this week.

Rural Affairs Minister Ross Finnie has rejected calls for the trials to be abandoned.


March against GM crops
BBC News Scotland
Saturday, 15 July, 2000, 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK March against GM crops

The protest, by around 35 people, was peaceful Environmentalists staged a protest outside the Scottish farm which is undertaking a full-scale trial of genetically modified crops. The peaceful demonstration on Saturday, by around 35 people, followed the third attack within a week on New Craig Farm, near Daviot, Aberdeenshire.

Grampian Police made six arrests - four men and two women - after the latest incident which is understood to have taken place on Friday night.

Officers are still investigating two other attacks made on the site last weekend when almost an acre of land was trampled on.

Attacks condemned

Saturday's protest was the first organised public demonstration since the trials were announce in March this year.

After the field was targeted last weekend, the Scottish Executive condemned the action and said that if the attacks continued, officials would have to consider withholding information about trial sites.

The incidents occurred shortly after Rural Affairs Minister Ross Finnie rejected calls for the trials to be abandoned.

It had emerged that non-GM oilseed rape sown as part of the experiment was contaminated with GM seed.

Kevin Stewart, spokesman of the campaign group Grampian Against GM, said he was not surprised that direct action had been taken.



Advanta, the company at the centre of the recent seed contamination scandal told a committee of MPs today [1] that the separation distances between its conventional oil seed rape crops in Canada and genetically modified crops was 4000 metres - 80 times the separation distances used in the UK. In a press release issued at the time the Government said that the crops " appear to have been affected by growing too close to GM rapeseed ". Friends of the Earth greeted the news by renewing its call for the Government to halt outdoor testing of genetically modified (GM) crops.

The UK Government last year endorsed a voluntary Code of Practice with the biotech industry whereby the separation distances are only 50 metres between conventional and GM crops (200 metres for seed production). The industry is currently looking for sites to grow GM winter oilseed rape as part of the Government's farm-scale trial programme. The first site has already been announced in Lincolnshire (Thorganby TF 207 968).

Adrian Bebb, Real Food Campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: 'This is a staggering revelation. To continue with the outdoor testing of GM crops in this country puts conventional farmers and the environment at an unacceptable risk. The Government must immediately suspend the farm-scale trials pending a thorough investigation into separation distances. It is clear that the public have been sold a pup by the biotech industry. How much longer will the Government allow these companies to gamble with our countryside?'

[1] House of Commons Agriculture Select Committee hearing into the seed contamination incident (18 July 2000).
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