ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

7 May 2002


1. Pink castle 'blocks' GM crop tests
2. Three arrested as protesters destroy GM crops at 100-strong protest


1. Pink castle 'blocks' GM crop tests

BBC News, 7 May 2002

Protestors who have erected a giant pink castle in a field that is due to test genetically modified (GM) maize say they will stay until it is impossible to plant the crop.

The camp was set up in the early hours of 25 April and has won support from residents of a nearby estate in Weymouth.

The group also plans to dress up as chickens to highlight tests that showed death rates in poultry increased when they were fed GM maize.

On Monday, the protestors met the farmer who owns the field, near the Littlemoor estate, but so far the demonstrations have remained peaceful.

A member of the group, Liz Snake, said: "We had our first visit from the farmer this morning. He was very polite and it was all non-confrontational.

"We've been here two weeks now and loads of local people have visited us.

"They use this area to walk their dogs and for recreation and they don't want GM crops planted here.

"There were attempts to grow GM maize here last year and the locals destroyed around 70% of the crop."

'Chicken die-in'

The centrepiece of the protestors' camp is a 30-foot high pink castle that was set up at the entrance to the field.

Ms Snake said: "We needed a dwelling over six feet high and the castle has lock-ons and concrete foundations.

"We intend to be here for another month because we think there is only a six week planting window for the maize.

"Most of us have jobs, so we operate on a rotation system and we will leave as soon as it becomes impossible to plant the crop."

Commercial approval

The demonstrators are also hoping to organise a "chicken die-in" that would involve people dressing up as chickens.

They will then cross the field and half the "chickens" would pretend to die.

The demonstration seeks to publicise tests that were conducted on T-25 GM maize, which was approved for commercial use in 1996 by the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment.

Chickens were fed the crop and initial results showed twice as many died compared with those fed on conventional maize.


2. Three arrested as protesters destroy GM crops

Jeanette Oldham and John Ross
The Scotsman, 7 May 2002

PROTESTERS last night launched a new attack on a controversial GM crop site in the Highlands.

A 100-strong crowd demonstrated at a farm in the small Easter Ross village of Munlochy, the site of one of the UK‚s biggest GM crop trials.

Police officers called to the scene at around 6:30pm yesterday found several people destroying the genetically-modified oilseed rape crop using a 4x4 vehicle. Access routes to the field were blocked by other vehicles.

Three men, aged 20, 43 and 44, were arrested and taken to Dingwall police station. They are expected to appear at Dingwall Sheriff Court this morning

A Northern Constabulary spokesman said: "We totally condemn this illegal and irresponsible action which had potentially serious consequences in the event of an emergency situation occurring in the wider area."

Campaigners have been mounting a vigil for almost ten months at the site and in recent weeks, the protests have intensified, despite a number of arrests.

Most recently, someone entered the field at Roskill Farm and ripped out about five acres of plants and five people were arrested after tearing up more plants.

The damage was done just days after the Scottish parliament’s transport and environment committee had called on the Executive to have the crop trial ploughed up. It voted 5-4 in favour of a recommendation that the trial could harm the environment and the food chain.

But the call was ignored by the rural redevelopment minister, Ross Finnie, a Liberal  Democrat, who has held to the line that there is no new evidence the trial poses any harm and that he is bound by a European directive to allow the test to continue.

Last week, the Scottish National Party joined Holyrood's only Green MSP, Robin Harper, in his fight to persuade the Executive to back down.

Mr Harper says a new European environment agency report warns of a high risk that growing GM oilseed rape will result in genetic contamination between different varieties of GM plants, and between GM plants and their wild relatives.

But Mr Finnie insists that, having received advice from the UK advisory committee on releases to the environment (ACRE), the executive was bound by law to allow continuation of the trial.

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