ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
10 March 2003


* Pink Castle - indymedia report
* ORGANIC FOOD HAS MORE HEALTHY COMPOUNDS - Journal of Ag and Food Chemistry ---
taken from uk indymedia newswire

On April 25th 2002 twenty friends met by the light of the moon and erected a 30ft high pink castle at the entrance to a field earmarked for the planting of a farmscale trial of GM maize in Weymouth Dorset. The idea was that by using the legal right to squat land they would stop tractors from entering the area to plant the seed- it wouldn't be economic for the farmer to go through the expensive eviction process to move them, and it would be too late for him to choose another site.

Things passed damply and peacefully until 16th May when the farmer appeared on the horizon driving a digger straight at the castle. People ran out to stop him, while through holes in the hedges an entourage of 5 tractors, a police helicopter and at least 50 coppers appeared. With the camp surrounded by police and locals from the next door housing estate being refused entry, the fleet started planting the field.

Rich, Olaf, Will and Liz were on their way back to the castle when they heard the tractors had moved on. They ran down the back of an adjacent hedge, and 3 of them stopped the nearest tractor by jumping in front of it and using bike D-locks to attach themselves to it by their necks. Rich ran at another tractor which was cultivating and climbed up onto the roof of the cab.

Planting was eventually completed without the 2 obstructed tractors, and the four were arrested for aggravated trespass. The castle remained and in the weeks that followed people went out every day and removed the GM seedlings. Four weeks later, with the field cleared of GM plants, the castle packed up and left, leaving nothing but the kitchen sink. The field and its neighbour on the other side of the estate were the only two farmscale trials in England to be completely decontaminated.

On 6th of March this year the Lourton Four were brought before a district judge at Sherbourne Magistrates court. The trial lasted two days. Their defence was based on the ancient common law of 'necessity'. This legislation, which predates parliamentary statutes, states that it is lawful for someone to use force to stop something if they believe they are acting to protect property from immediate threat, and that what they do could be deemed proportionate and necessary by an ordinary reasonable person.

It was regarded as something of a last resort argument. When criminal damage cases have been brought against those who remove GM crops, protecting property has always been an effective defence. However, Aggravated Trespass is designed to outlaw civil disobedience, and no case law has ever been won using the argument of 'necessity', rather than the different laws which surround criminal damage. The Judge, Mr House, heard from the Bayer Cropsciences PR woman, the farmer, and the accused. It was the ladsí first offence, and they were represented by Anya from Bindmans solicitors. Liz represented herself with support from Rowan as her 'Mcenzie friend' and Charlotte passing notes.

In the dock the four made clear their depth of understanding of the issues, the very real threat the crop posed in that specific instance, their attempts to use all other possible methods to stop it, and the sincerity of their beliefs. At one point the prosecution tried to imply that the removal of the crop after the arrests painted the defendants in an even more serious light. Liz explained that such an action was the only logical next step and that it had been done in broad daylight under the eye of the local police. She then turned to the officers present at the back and invited them to arrest her for the action if they saw fit. There was no response.

The judge did not retire to consider his verdict. He gave it immediately. He explained the stages in his conclusions at some length. He found them all not guilty.

This is an unprecedented case, with an unprecedented result, which changes English case law. It's thought that the prosecution will appeal against it- but they have made no moves to yet.

The crop which was planted and then removed is a kind of maize for cattle feed designed to be resistant to the companies own herbicide. It is the first GM crop being proposed for commercialisation in Britain. Margaret Beckett the environment minister recently announced that the government will go ahead with making a decision on whether this should happen before the results of the governments 'public debate' on the issue.

This means that the government is trying to push through the widescale planting of a product which a judge has deemed to be such a threat that it's legitimate to break the law to stop its planting. Funny old world really.



March 8, 2003

WASHINGTON - U.S. researchers were cited as reporting on Friday that organically grown crops contain more healthy compounds than conventional crops, perhaps because they are not exposed to pesticides, and that tests on organically and sustainably grown berries and corn showed they contain up to 58 percent more polyphenolics, compounds that act as antioxidants and may protect cells against damage that can lead to heart disease and cancer.

Alyson Mitchell, an assistant professor of food science at the University of California, Davis, who led the study, was quoted as saying, "This really opens the door to more research in this area."

Her team compared levels of total polyphenolics and ascorbic acid content in blackberries, strawberries and corn grown organically, sustainably or conventionally.

The team found that blackberries grown sustainably or organically and then frozen contained 50 percent to 58 percent more polyphenolics than conventionally grown crops from neighboring plots.

Sustainably grown frozen strawberries contained 19 percent more polyphenolics than conventional fruit.

Sustainably grown and organic produce also had more ascorbic acid, which the body converts to vitamin C, Mitchell's team reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Click here to send a letter of support to the countries currently opposing a war in Iraq (France, Germany, Russia, China, and Syria):

Click here to send a letter of opposition to the countries currently supporting a war in Iraq (US, UK, Spain and Bulgaria):

Click here to send a letter to the "middle six" countries currently being lobbied by each side (Mexico, Cameroon, Guinea, Angola, Chile, and Pakistan):

ngin bulletin archive