1. Protesters dump GM maize on govt doorstep
2. GM crop decontaminators to deliver GM crops to DEFRA
3. UP TO 30 FARMS EARMARKED FOR GM CROP TRIALS
4. AUTUMN GM CROP TRIALS - ENGLAND
5. AUTUMN GM CROP TRIALS - SCOTLAND
6. increased security at sites
1. Protesters dump GM maize on govt doorstep
July 23, 2001
The genetically modified foods debate today landed on the Government's doorstep as environmental campaigners dumped 50 large bags of maize outside the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Five campaigners, wearing white decontamination suits, uprooted the maize at a site in Preston Wynne, Herefordshire, run by biotechnology firm Aventis.
But Dr Paul Rylott, 38, seeds manager for Aventis, was cited as saying that the campaigners had uprooted the wrong maize and described the campaigners as "vandals" stating, "For the second time recently, the illegal activities of protesters have in fact resulted in damage to the non-GM control within the farm scale evaluation."
The story says that the Preston Wynne site, one of 25 such GM trail sites, occupies 10 acres (four hectares), half of which consists of GM forage maize and the other half non-GM forage maize.
Dr Rylott said it was the non-GM half of the field that had been uprooted, adding, "We have for some time suggested that many of the protesters do not have faith in their own arguments and are trying to prevent the independent science from showing the real facts."
The campaigners rejected Dr Rylott's claim that GM technology would bring "significant environmental and economic benefits".
Kathryn Tulip, 42, of Oxford, was quoted as saying, "We tested the maize before uprooting it and were satisfied that it was GM." The environmentalists were led by Rowan Tilly, who delivered a letter to the Defra reception desk this morning demanding an end to GM trials.
2. PRESS RELEASE
23 July 2001 Immediate release
In the early hours of this morning five GM crop decontaminators; Jenny Sansom Rebecca Oldham, Mick Davies, Kathryn Tulip and Rowan Tilly removed genetically modified (GM) maize plants from the farm scale trial site at Preston Wynne, Herefordshire (1). The decontaminators destroyed approximately 50% of the GM crop. This is the seventh GM farm scale trial to have been damaged in the past four weeks.
The five will be delivering 50 large bags of the GM maize to Michael Meacher at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) today at 10.30 am
(2). The delivery will include a letter addressed to Michael Meacher requesting a meeting together with open statements from the five claiming responsibility for destroying the GM maize.
The GM trial at Preston Wynne is one of 25 maize farm scale trials that are being carried out by the government to compare the effects of two different weedkillers on farmland wildlife. The GM crop in the trial is Aventis' herbicide tolerant (glufosinate) fodder maize. The crop is due to flower within the next few weeks and will spread genetic pollution over a wide area contaminating the maize crops of local farmers and gardeners (3).
A Mori poll commissioned by Greenpeace shows that 79% of the public is opposed to field trials of GM crops. A recent Lloyds TSB poll of farmers shows that more than 50% of farmers are opposed to GM technology (4).
Rowan Tilly said
"We have begun a process of decontamination and I hope that others will continue the work. It's everyone's responsibility to show the government and biotech giant Aventis that we will not put up with their genetic pollution."
Kathryn Tulip said
"The farm scale trial programme should be abandoned immediately. GM technology is an unacceptable economic and environmental threat to local farmers, communities and the countryside. The majority of consumers and farmers do not want GM crops. We are returning these crops to the Government to let them know that we and others do not want these crops in our environment"
For further information contact Kathryn Tulip on 07796 430 141 or 0780 105 5657
1) The GM crop pullers are Jenny Sansom aged 24 of Coventry, Rebecca Oldham aged 21 from Coventry, Mick Davies aged 39 from Coventry, Kathryn Tulip, aged 42 from Oxford and Rowan Tilly, aged 43, from Brighton. Rowan and Kathryn both have civil injunctions requiring them to refrain from damaging GM crops belonging to Aventis (the owner of the crop at Preston Wynne). Breach of this injunction carries the penalty of a term of imprisonment.
2) The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is at 17 Smith Square, London.
3) For more information on the shortcomings of the farm scale trials see
<http://www.uk.greenpeace.org/>http://www.uk.greenpeace.org. The government admits that the GM pollution from GM crop trials will contaminate both organic and conventional crops.
4) For more details of the Mori poll see
<http://www.uk.greenpeace.org/>http://www.uk.greenpeace.org. For more details of the Lloyds TSB poll see Farmers Weekly 15th June 2001.
Picture Editor's Notes
Photographs of the delivery at DEFRA available from Rob Todd 07977 275 563 Video footage of the delivery available from Adrian Arbib 07711 090 544
3. UP TO 30 FARMS EARMARKED FOR GM CROP TRIALS
July 23, 2001
A new round of genetically modified (GM) crop trials is set to start in four weeks at up to 30 farm sites across Britain, the UK Government announced today. Sowing of GM oilseed rape is expected from August 20 until mid September in locations which include a site near a problem hit GM crop trial where ministers were forced to apologise for Government mistakes.
Separation distances between trial sites and nearby fields remain at 50 metres for conventional oilseed rape varieties despite concern from environmental campaigners over GM pollen contaminating neighbouring crops.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was cited as saying that a separation distance of 200 metres will apply where organic oilseed rape is grown near the GM trial sites, but pollen transfer cannot be ruled out completely.
Peter Riley from Friends of the Earth was quoted as saying, "Oilseed rape pollen travels miles and neighbouring crops could be cross pollinated leaving farmers the problem of selling a contaminated crop."
In May, environment minister Michael Meacher was forced to apologise for failing to consult local farmers over a GM crop trial in Low Burnham, North Lincolnshire, 15 miles from a new trial site at North Kelsey.
The Low Burnham site was also wrongly identified on a map. Mr Riley criticised the Government for lack of proper consultation over this latest round of trials.
4. AUTUMN GM CROP TRIALS - GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES SITES
The government today announced the locations of the proposed sites in England for the next round of its Farm-Scale Evaluations (FSEs) of genetically modified herbicide tolerant crops. Depending on weather and soil conditions, sowing of the GM oilseed rape is expected from 20 August through to mid September.
The government believes that it is important for the public to be aware as soon as possible of what is happening in their neighbourhoods, and why. Today's information is being provided four weeks before the first seeds will be sown. The proposed sites will also be advertised in local newspapers.
The independent Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) which oversees the FSE programme has approved a shortlist of locations and has recommended that there should be up to 30 autumn-sown oilseed rape sites this year across the UK. The overall number of sites used in the programme (60-75 for each crop over three years) is unchanged.
DEFRA officials will assess proposed sites and will consider the local conditions against the original risk assessment in the consent for the autumn-sown oilseed rape crop. These assessments will be made available on the DEFRA website.
In the FSEs, scientists are studying the effects on wildlife of the use by farmers of specific herbicides associated with the GM crops compared with their conventional equivalents. Researchers count, for example, the number of weeds, bees, butterflies and beetles in trial fields. Seeds and plants have been through years of strict tests in laboratories, greenhouses and small plots of land. The independent Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment has assessed that the crops are safe for human or animal health and for the environment.
The GM crops used in the FSEs are separated from any nearby conventional or organic production. Whilst pollen transfer can not be ruled out completely, these distances (50 metres for conventional varieties and 100 metres for varietal associations) should mean that any cross-pollination with other rape crops is minimised to less than 1%. In many cases it will be much lower. Oilseed rape does not normally feature in organic production. However, should there be any organic oilseed rape a separation distance of 200 metres will apply. We are keeping separation distances under review for future rounds of the trials.
There will be no commercial growing of GM crops until the FSEs are completed and only then if the crops and associated farming practices are assessed as causing no unacceptable effects on the environment.
Notes to Editors
1. The table below includes 26 winter oilseed rape site in England. Details of sites in Scotland are available from the Scottish Executive web site (www.scotland.gov).
Site Grid Reference Parish County
SK 586 706 Cuckney Nottinghamshire
SO 567 483 Felton Herefordshire
TF 940 250 Colkirk Norfolk
SJ 715 870 Lymm Cheshire
TM 073 885 Banham Norfolk
SP 056 354 Buckland Gloucestershire
TM 099 872 Winfarthing Norfolk
TF 208 975 Thorganby Lincolnshire
TA 020 005 North Kelsey Lincolnshire
SK 968 913 Spital in the Street Lincolnshire
SJ 685 259 Hinstock Shropshire
TL 049 101 Great Gaddesden Hertfordshire
SY 677 845 Bincombe Dorset
SY 671 862 Bincombe Dorset
SP 151 489 Long Marston Warwickshire
NZ 198 371 Oakenshaw Durham
SU 365 980 Hinton Waldrist Oxfordshire
TQ 878 399 Biddenden Kent
TF 198 985 Thorganby Lincolnshire
TF 211 890 Ludford Lincolnshire
SJ 398 275 Hordley Shropshire
NZ 132 134 Wycliffe with Thorpe Durham
NZ 133 108 Hutton Magna Durham
SP 038 369 Dumbleton Gloucestershire
SE 754 309 Howden East Riding of Yorkshire
TA 015 622 Nafferton East Riding of Yorkshire
5. AUTUMN GM CROP TRIALS IN SCOTLAND:
Grid Reference Nearest village Location
NJ 753 346 Rothienorman Aberdeenshire
NJ 747 307 Daviot Aberdeenshire
NJ 756 274 Daviot Aberdeenshire
NH 654 545 Munlochy Ross-shire
---6. Following a wave of actions at GM farm scle trials in the past two weeks, reports are now coming in of increased security measures at damaged crop sites. In Wivenhoe and Arlesford, Essex, where there are two trials of genetically modifed maize, it has been reported that video cameras have been placed near to the crop nad also some kind of motion sensor. Regular police checks have been carried out and a police helicopter has been used during the night. 75% of the Arlesford trial has been damged by protestors, and 10% of the Wivenhoe trial. There have been no arrests. At Jealotts Hill, Berkshire, where Novartis are carrying out trials of genetically modified potatos, people have reported high security surrounding the trials. However, despite this, 75% of one of the trials has been destroyed.