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24 July 2002

BARROW-LOADS OF GM CROPS DELIVERED/MOSES AND THE BBC

1. Barrow-loads of GM crops delivered - PRESS RELEASE
2. Moses and the BBC
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1. Barrow-loads of GM crops delivered to Government in London

Genetic Engineering Network 1A Waterlow Road, London, N19 5NJ

Wednesday 24 July 2002      Immediate release
Press release

At 1.45 p.m. today, Wednesday 24 July 2002, over 150 people, including families with children, held a colourful and peaceful demonstration at the Governments Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in Smiths Square, London. They left large bags of GM crops from trial sites around Britain at the entrance. They were calling for no commercial growing of GM crops and an end to GM crop trials [1]. People left at about 2.40 p.m.

Bags of GM crops, carried by hand and in wheelbarrows or shopping trolleys blocked the entrance to the building[2]. There were many banners, flags and placards. Children wore bumblebee costumes and bag pipers played in a carnival spirit. Banners read "No to GM crop commercialisation", "We want to be GM free", "Essex rejects", "North Essex says no to GM crops", etc. Communities in Scarborough delivered 500 sticks of rock with their message "Scarborough Rock Solid Against GM". People were present from all over England, Scotland and Wales. Those from Scotland had started travelling on Monday 22 July. Director of Communications at DEFRA, Lucian Hudson, accepted the demonstrators letters and petitions at the buildings entrance.

Matthew Herbert one of the demonstrators and an Oxford resident said,   'For five years nonviolent direct activists have been holding back the tide of GM crops, and defending the environment and our democracy against corporate greed. Now the Government needs to make a choice. Are they going to bow to the corporate agenda and commercialise GM crops? Or are they going to listen to the people and abandon GM in favour of truly sustainable alternatives?'
ENDS
CONTACT: See Editors Note [3]

Editors Notes
[1] The Government is to start a public consultation on whether GM crops should be grown commercially in Britain in the autumn or sooner. Currently GM crops are only grown in farm scale trials designed to assess the impact of GM crops on wildlife. The trials end summer 2003.
[2] Bags of GM oil seed rape, maize and sugar beet were left at DEFRA from farm scale trials in Cheshire, Shropshire, Dorset, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, North Yorkshire, Fife and Hertfordshire.
[3] Spokespersons for local campaigns attending the DEFRA visit include Donny McLeod from Munlochy, Scotland 07747 896878; Kate O'Connell  from Lincolnshire 07729 038 608; Gerald Miles from Pembrokeshire, Wales 07879 664703; Rowan Tilly from Brighton, Sussex 07786 094164; Kathryn Tulip from Oxford 07796 430 141.

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2. from Jim Thomas:

.. looks like there is to be a forum today on GE on BBC online/digital with a chance for the public to put their questions to  an impartial scientist from a "consumer initiative" - Dr Vivian Moses of CropGen!!

You can send  your question to the consumer-friendly Dr Moses by filling in the form at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/forum/2147409.stm

Below is a question something like that which I have sent - i'd encourage  others to ask the similar 'questions'.

Dear BBC. It is simply not correct to claim the Dr Moses is some sort of  impartial expert from a 'consumer initiative'. As you will be aware Dr Vivian  Moses speaks on behalf of CropGEN which is funded by the GE Food industry  (Monsanto, Aventis, Syngenta)to spread their point of view. This fact, that he  is paid by the industry to speak on their behalf, has been put to Dr Moses on a number of BBC programmes such as Newsnight and he does not dispute it.

He  certainly does not represent 'consumers' in any shape or form. Given the  highly partial nature of Dr Moses involvement in this forum may I ask that you replace him with a scientist not picked and paid by the GE Food companies,  that you balance his rather selective opinions with the concerns of those  independent scientists who have raised concerns about GM foods and crops or  that at the very least you ammend your website and presentation of Dr Moses to  fully explain his financial backers and partial position. The BBC's reputation  for impartial journalism is not well served by this exercise. yours etc..
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Members of the public are to get their say on the merits of genetic  modification.

The government is launching a "national debate" in a bid to form some sort of  consensus about whether the UK wants to grow GM crops.

The debate will start in the Autumn and run until next May or June - but there  won't be a referendum.

Field trials of GM crops are already underway, but environmental campaigners  say there should be more thorough safety tests before they are grown  commercially.

Concerns surrounding GM technology centre on the impact on the environment, wildlife and human health.

Recently, several African countries have turned away food aid because it  contained genetically modified corn.

What are the pros and cons of GM crops? How should the public debate be run?

Would you buy GM foods? Should GM crops be used to help relieve hunger?

Professor Vivien Moses, a GM foods expert from the consumer initiative  CropGen, will answer your questions in a LIVE forum for the BBC's Six O'clock news, presented by Manisha Tank. You can watch the programme on this webpage  or on Digital Television in the UK at 1830 BST on Wednesday, 24 July.
 
 

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