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Genetic trials trashed!
From ALLSORTS 24th July 2000
9 out of 48 farm scale trials damaged or destroyed within the last three weeks
The credibility of the government's GM farmscale trial programme is in tatters after a series of decontamination actions. At the time of writing five of the twelve Spring oilseed rape sites and four of the twelve maize sites have been partially destroyed.
In the last 3 weeks a total of 9 farmscale trials have been visited by citizens taking immediate and pragmatic action against the pollution of our countryside sponsored by the UK government and Aventis Plc. This constitutes damage and possible invalidation to 18.75% of the total FST evaluations currently being grown. (9 out of 48) .The actions have been both covert and overt.
So, to recap After 3 of these decontaminations were made public, Chris Pollock, Head of the UK Scientific Steering Committee on Farm Scale Evaluations said repeated attacks on the sites risked undermining the entire project.
"Obviously we have concerns that the numbers of trials are low and that any damage to them which affects the ability to collect data will have an effect on the total pool of information," he told BBC radio.
Pollock, who leads the committee that is overseeing the tests, said scientists needed 60 to 75 sites over the three-year trial period to ascertain if GM has any environmental fallout.
At this point, the government were saying that experts have a combined 48 sites that are valid and another two years testing to go. "We're not worried. This has all been taken into consideration and we are still within our targets," -quote from a government spokeswoman Since then news of substantial damage to a further 6 trials has been received by GEN.
Clearly, this level of activity can no longer be written off as just the work of 'vandals' and 'misinformed eco-activists' and the scale and range of actions, both overt and covert, represents a massive groundswell of public feeling against the trials and the unwarranted risks that they pose to the British countryside.
The BBC is quoted as saying 'some farmers have pulled out of the trials for fear of the sort of attacks that protesters routinely carried out last year' but the overwhelming feedback from the local groups that have sprung up everywhere that a proposed FST has been announced is that many farmers are pulling out having listened to local concern.
In Spring this year only 48 armscale trial sites were planted, well short of the government's target. Eight farmers had changed their minds and pulled out of the trials, under pressure from their local communities. The Farmscale trial in Cornwall was stopped by a local farmer who realised that his neighbour with the GM maize crop (grown for feed) and dairy herd, was selling his milk to a company that had a no GM animal feed policy. One call to the milk company was enough to halt the trial.
In Dorset, campaigners have persuaded the council to investigate the legality of the trial under planning law, as a precedent in UK could mean that the farmer growing GM maize should apply to the local council to have planning consent to change the status of his land from 'agriculture' to 'research'. If this is upheld, the council could at most demand a halt to the trial.
Around the country people are opening dialogue with farmers, writing letters, exploring legal challenges and building long term community based campaigns to keep up the pressure.
Dr Ricarda Steinbrecher, Geneticist, Econexus said ' I have been speaking at public meetings up and down the country,and it's obvious that the level of public concern and anger over the trials is rising dramatically . People feel that they cannot get their voices heard.'
The list reads Daviot in Scotland 15% of Spring Oilseed Rape (SOSR)destroyed, in 2 separate covert actions, some time before the public meeting on Sat 15/7/00. 100 people attended the public rally. This site had GM contaminated Hyola 38 oilseed rape being grown in the control half of the site, as stated by Meacher in the House of Commons. Its scientific validity is therefore highly dubious.
Hutton Magna, Yorkshire, (SOSR) covert action, no information has been passed on about the extent of the damage.
Chipping Campden Glouscester, (SOSR) covert action, 75% destroyed.
Hemel Hempstead, Herts (SOSR) covert action, 50 + % destroyed
Kempley, Glouscester, (SOSR) covert action, 50 + % destroyed
Over Compton, Dorset LL Chardon Maize, overt action at public rally, 7 arrests, one person detained, 15% destroyed……report below
Wivenhoe, Essex, LL Chardon Maize, overt action at night, 11 arrests, 25 + % destroyed, report below
Headley Hall Farm, Yorkshire,LL Chardon Maize, covert action, 60+% destroyed
IARC Rothamstead, Herts, LL Chardon Maize, covert action, 35+% destroyed
Notes 1 The person who was detained at Over Compton gave a temporary name "for the future", refusing to give her details, in solidarity with future generations who do not have a voice in the present. She is a participant of genetiX snowball but took action as part of SURGE not as part of genetiX snowball.
"Future" was charged with criminal damage and was able to submit a prepared personal statement which also attached 27 scientific papers and briefings as "evidence at the scene of the crime". Future was passed around to four different police stations and a court which refused to hear her; a senior officer described this situation as "mysterious".
The police traced her as Rowan Tilly via her fingerprints late on Monday 17th she was bailed to attend Dorchester Magistrates Court on Thursday 20th ; no other bail conditions. This hearing was later adjourned, Copies of her statement are available from: firstname.lastname@example.org. The other six arrestees, including GriM Reapers, were released on police bail pending further enquiries and are due to appear at Weymouth Magistrates Court at mid-day on 11 August.
2 Accountable Action - 11 charged with damaging GM crops
Eleven local people have been charged with damaging a field of genetically modified maize (Liberty Link Chardon)in Wivenhoe, Essex. Six women and five men are accused of criminal damage following the alleged attack at Wivenhoe, which was at night. One of the participants told GEN that they decided on a night time action to enable them to inflict sufficient damage to the GM crop before the police arrived, to ensure that the case would go to Crown Court with a jury.
They had arranged their legal support before the action and informed some press. The trial was around 6 hectares or 15 acres, of which half was GM and it is estimated that 25 + % of the GM crop was destroyed. The 11 accused are aged between 20 and 52 and are from the Colchester area of Essex. They will appear in court at Colchester next Tuesday.
The farm at Wivenhoe had already hit the news earlier this year when it emerged that the land was infected with Rhizomania. They have received messages of support from all over the world. 3 Meanwhile, the first of the winter oilseed rape sites are being announced by DETR. There would appear to be big rows brewing over whether to continue making details of the locations public. For the current complete list of testsite status, http://www.primalseeds.org/testsite.htm
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