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Action to pull up GM crops - 9th March 2002 - Long Marston

UK Genetics Actions Round-up

2001 was a bit of a failure for biotech giants in the UK who seem to be have been experiencing some difficulty with their GM test sites - they keep disappearing. Over thirty trials were damaged or destroyed. A fair few crops failed to grow sufficiently for the tests to be valid and some trials were withdrawn after public pressure. All of the National Seed List Trials for winter oilseed rape were invalidated! Following this wave of actions against GM trials there are reports of increased security measures at previously damaged test sites. At Wivenhoe and Arlesford in Essex, infra-red sensors and video cameras were installed, hidden in bird boxes and placed near the two maize trials, as well as security guards, dogs and car patrols. Despite these measures, 95% of the Arlesford trial has been damaged by protesters, and 10% at Wivenhoe. At Jealotts Hill, Berkshire, high security including barbed wire fences, infra-red cameras and mobile patrols, surrounded the trials of Syngenta GM potatoes. Again, the measures failed to prevent 75% of one of the trials being destroyed. As one protester commented: "Police claim to lack resources, but when they want to protect a mutant crop that no one wants there's suddenly a bottomless pit of cash."

The Trouble With Genetics

There were more actions at GM test sites in the summer of 2001 than ever before.

30th June Two hundred people joined a lively carnival of protest against two farm scale trials of maize in Wivenhoe, Essex. The costumed procession made its way through the town to meet at the farm for a picnic. They tried to place biohazard signs around the edge of the trial but were prevented by police. Seven people were arrested, three charged with criminal damage.

14th July Around one hundred and fifty people gathered for a day of protests against the only trial site in Wales, a farm scale trial in Flintshire. The farmer was handed a petition and people began to pull up the maize. About 10% was destroyed, and six people were arrested.

19th August Not one, not two, but three actions took place in England, Scotland and Wales. In Dorset, thirty or so locals went for a stroll to highlight their farm scale trial of winter oilseed rape. Three camera crews and assorted media types reported the event. At the Flintshire site in Wales, protesters braved the weather and strong police presence (56 police for 15 protesters!) to have an organic picnic at the site. In Scotland 300 people gathered in Munlochy (see next page).

13th December 10 people with a purple cow banner blockaded the BOCM Pauls (the country's largest animal feed producer) plant in Radstock, Somerset, for two hours. The gates were D-locked together and lorries backed up along the road. A few protesters wandered around inside, chatting to workers while sitting on the conveyer belt, and on their departure the local policeman thanked them and said they could return any time(!).

The next day a group of 22 campaigners staged a protest at the Exeter base of BOCM Pauls Ltd. Two scaled a silo while another eight, including a pregnant woman, chained themselves to a weighbridge using bike D-locks and arm tubes.

By obstructing the weighbridge the group had calculated that they would cause maximum disruption, and as the day progressed a queue of lorries built up, needing to use the weighbridge before leaving the plant.

It was the second time the group had targeted BOCM's premises. In newspaper reports a BOCM spokesperson confirmed that the company does produce feed that incorporates GM ingredients which he said "they were entitled to do under current laws".

9th March 2002 The first rally against GM crops in 2002 took place in Long Marston near Stratford-Upon-Avon. After a peaceful rally about 100 people went onto the field of GM crops and in full view of the police proceeded to pull up the crop for half an hour before the police moved in and made 5 arrests.

To keep up-to-date with protests and GM sites check out www.geneticsaction.org.uk and to get the very excellent 'Genetix Update' publication visit www.togg.org.uk