"When [a] community has legitimate concerns, but is effectively ignored, it has little option but to protest. The protesters have won the day. The outcome is the right one, even if the reasons (on the executive's part) are wrong. Mr Finnie [Scotland's Environment Minister] should learn the lesson and make sure there is genuine consultation in the future. If he does not, there will be more Munlochys."
Munlochy vigil press release
for immediate effect
Saturday 13 July 2002
It seems that presently the GM crop at the FSE in Munlochy is being destroyed. A tractor with a roller is slowly flattening the GM part of the field. This could well be in line with consent document 00/R33/11S, section 37: "If the trial is damaged up to seed formation it will be destroyed sufficiently in advance of maturity to minimise formation of viable seed".
The farmer may have been forced to take this action. If this is the situation we welcome the removal of the GM crop. However, if it is ploughed into the soil we will have deep reservations about lack of monitoring on the soil structure in the future.
Press contact: Anthony Jackson 07720 817847 or 0781 330 7337
Munlochy GM crop trials
Genuine consultation in future should be ensured
The Herald (Glasgow) July 9, 2002
The Scottish Executive's decision to drop Roskill farm near Munlochy on the Black Isle as a site for genetically modified crop trials is surprising. It is politically convenient because the farm has been the scene of the most persistent and vehement protests in Scotland against GM trials.
Failing to select the farm for the third and final round of experiments certainly gets the executive off the hook. But it is a surprise because Ross Finnie, the rural affairs minister, had given no indication this would happen.
Indeed, his obduracy in the face of mounting protests suggested the opposite. Roskill farm had taken part in the first two trials and seemed likely to see the programme through to the bitter end. The executive said yesterday that Jamie Grant, the farmer, had not applied for a licence for the third round. Mr Grant was much more equivocal, refusing to say whether he had wanted to press on for a third year. Neither would he indicate if he was disappointed. His one comment - that he was confident every farm on the Black Isle would be growing GM crops in 40 years - probably gives a flavour of his true feelings.
He might be right in his prophecy. The only way to find out if GM crops present a danger to biodiversity or turn out to be a boon to humankind (by enabling food crops to grow in famine-affected parts of the world) is to test them. That is the purpose of the executive's programme. Because it did not want to force farmers to take part, it invited them to come forward. It did not necessarily end up with the right sites.
Roskill farm is a case in point. A neighbouring farmer who grows organic crops worried about contamination destroying his livelihood. There have also been concerns about a poisonous herbicide in the trials leaching into Munlochy Bay, a nature conservation area. Perhaps the biggest concern was the way local democracy was bypassed.
GM crop trials do not require planning permission, so there is no need to consult the local community. When that community has legitimate concerns, but is effectively ignored, it has little option but to protest. The protesters have won the day. The outcome is the right one, even if the reasons (on the executive's part) are wrong. Mr Finnie should learn the lesson and make sure there is genuine consultation in the future. If he does not, there will be more Munlochys.