ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
Date:  6 November 2000




A group of 5 friends including a mother and a daughter will face trial between 13th and 17th November 2000 for openly removing an entire AgrEvo (now Aventis) GM Oilseed Rape test site in October last year.
Hugh Baker, Zoey and Lorraine Exley, Emma Henry and Stephen Gordon will defend the charge of criminal damage at Darlington Magistrates Court. They will argue that by removing the crop (at Hutton Fields Farm in Hutton Magna)  they were preventing the genetic pollution it would have
otherwise caused and the associated dangers to public health, the environment and property.
During the pre-trial hearing the judge consented to the appearance of expert witnesses - including Dr. Sue Mayer and Professor Mae-Wan Ho - who will give  evidence concerning the open release of GM crops.  Experts are scheduled to appear on the 16th & 17th of November. Press
restrictions were also lifted at the pre-trial hearing.

Stephen Gordon
(0161) 8812368

Journalists Notes

The defendants will use two defences in court, the first being that, when they took action, they were of the belief that this action would serve to  protect property.  The second being that, if they had not taken the action it is likely that personal injury or death would have almost certainly resulted (this being the defence for which they have been permitted to bring forward  expert witnesses).

They will site Dr Pusztai's research, which has been confirmed by twenty  other scientists and has also been peer reviewed and published in the Lancet, as proof of the dangers caused by GM contaminated foods. This research showed that after just ten days of eating GM potatoes rats
suffered damage to their immune system and vital organs including the kidneys, thymus, spleen and gut, whilst their brain size also decreased.

The defendants will argue that genetic pollution would have occurred as a  direct result of the test site at Hutton Magna. This would occur both through cross-pollination (had the crop been allowed to flower) and through  a process called Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT).

They will argue that HGT occurs frequently with GMOs because of the very nature of GM 'technology', and that this poses unlimited dangers to public health. For example, in a four year study by Prof. Hans-Hinrich Kaatzit, it  was shown that the alien gene used to modify oilseed rape
had transferred to  bacteria inside the guts of bees. This research suggests that all types of bacteria could become contaminated by genes used in GM technology, including those that live inside the human digestion system. If this happened it could  have an impact on the bacteria's vital role in helping the human body fight disease, aid digestion and facilitate blood clotting.

Furthermore, they will argue that the advent of GM technology will bring  about new allergens and toxins that will not be detected by current food  safety tests.  For example, in 1992, 37 people died in the US and over 1500 were permanently disabled, after consuming a food supplement
derived from genetically modified bacteria (which contained a new toxin caused by
genetic modification).

They will also prevent evidence showing:

a)  GM crops, far from solving world hunger, will threaten the worlds food supply by destroying biodiversity, thus making the food supply vulnerable to extreme weather conditions (such as those we are currently experiencing).

b)  the sole reason for Aventis creating herbicide resistant seeds is to sell MORE glufosinate (a broad spectrum herbicide, soluble in water, and poisonous to aquatic life and to humans).

c)  the Government, are 'not in the driving seat' with regard to the regulation of GM crops and food.

d)   that, transnationals are not democratically controlled to any reasonable level and that this is exacerbated by power they are given through socially and environmentally irresponsible institutions such as the WTO.
The defendants also intend to show that transnationals, being in the  position that they are, act without consideration of social or environmental  consequences, or lose out to competition. And that,
therefore, there is an urgent need for strict international laws to ensure that transnationals work in the interest of the public.
 Stephen Gordon
 (0161) 8812368

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