"Mr Meacher must act to put a stop to this while there's still time. If it goes ahead and Ryton is contaminated, it would be an act of the most disgraceful vandalism - and one the electorate there may well remember come polling day." editorial Coventry Evening Telegraph May 9, 2001
3 items on Ryton
GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER NOW, MR MEACHER
Coventry Evening Telegraph May 9, 2001
ENVIRONMENT minister Michael Meacher may well be distracted today by the election campaign, but there's something in his pending tray that just won't keep. Despite the general consensus of opinion that it would be incredible folly to plant genetically modified crops in a field near Ryton Organic Gardens, the farmer is all set to go ahead. Friends of the Earth are against it, of course, and they are joined by the local MP - and Mr Meacher himself. He recognises that it would be disastrous for the organic gardens if the soil there became contaminated by the GM crops. The problem seems to be simply that no-one has told the farmer, or Aventis, the company behind the scheme, to hold off. The farmer is waiting only for the right conditions. If it hadn't rained last night, the deed would already be done.
Mr Meacher must act to put a stop to this while there's still time. If it goes ahead and Ryton is contaminated, it would be an act of the most disgraceful vandalism - and one the electorate there may well remember come polling day. Coventry Evening Telegraph May 9, 2001, Wednesday SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 3 LENGTH: 177 words HEADLINE: FARMER SET FOR GM TRIAL GO AHEAD BODY: A FARMER today said he was ready to go ahead with plans to sow GM crops at Wolston - despite government objections. Cecil Thomas said he had NOT been told to stop the controversial trials at fields near the organic centre Ryton Gardens. Fields at his farm have already been tilled in preparation for the sowing of genetically-modified maize. Today he said he was ready to go ahead when the conditions were right. Yesterday environment minister Michael Meacher said he objected to the scheme and a government committee was today meeting to decide whether to stop the trials. Biotech firm Aventis is being urged to set up the trials elsewhere. Andy King, MP for Rugby and Kenilworth, has been heavily involved in the campaign against the trial, and was today waiting for news from the environment minister's office on whether it was to be halted. Mr Meacher said on Monday he was planning to ask the Scientific Steering Committee, and Scimac, the group representing seed firms which helps select sites, to abandon the Wolston site. GRAPHIC: OBJECTIONS: MP Michael Meacher LOAD-DATE: May 10, 2001 [Entered May 10, 2001]
GM FARM BOSS 'READY TO SOW'; 'WE HAVE HEARD NOTHING FROM THE GOVERNMENT'
Coventry Evening Telegraph May 9, 2001
Krysia Diver And Hayley Cuthbertson
A FARMER today said he was ready to go ahead with plans to sow GM crops at fields near Coventry, despite government objections. Only rain overnight prevented the scheme going ahead in fields at Wolston today. Cecil Thomas, of New Farm, said he will plant genetically modified maize in fields two miles from Ryton Organic Gardens "as soon as the weather permits" - unless he is officially told otherwise. Yesterday, environment minister Michael Meacher said he objected to the scheme and it should go elsewhere, but no one has said anything to Mr Thomas or Aventis, the firm behind the trials. The government insisted a top-level meeting was taking place today to decide what should happen. Fields at the farm have already been tilled in preparation for the sowing of the genetically-modified maize crops. Mr Thomas said: "We've heard what Michael Meacher has to say through the media, but he hasn't come to us. We are already running about 10 days late to sow the crops so we need to get planting as soon as possible. "I have been growing maize since 1958. It is a difficult crop to pollinate and if we thought there would be any danger to other crops we would not go ahead with this. "We have been assured by scientists that there is no risk to Ryton Gardens, so as far as we are concerned we will go ahead with the trials unless we are told to cancel."
Meanwhile, outside the field 200 yards from his home, Friends of The Earth demonstrators dressed in "sweetcorn" costumes, had taped up the gates in protest at the trials.
West Midlands spokesman Chris Crean said: "Highlighting the issues will always make a difference to situations like this. "We are losing time and need to halt the threat of these trials as soon as possible. It is incredible that Michael Meacher is asking the permission of the commercial company to halt the trials and this begs the question as to who runs the country. Is it chemical giants or the government ?" Andy King, MP for Rugby and Kenilworth, has been heavily involved in the campaign against the trial, and was today waiting for news from the environment minister's office. Environment secretary Michael Meacher said on Monday he was planning to ask the scientific steering committee, and Scimac, the group representing seed firms which helps select sites, to abandon the Wolston site. Mr King said: "I am hoping to hear news very soon from the environment minister's office to see how successful our appeal has been." He said both he and Mr Meacher were still "100 per cent" determined to stop the trial. Seeds manager for Aventis Dr Paul Rylott said they had not received direct criticisms from Michael Meacher about the Wolston trials.
Dr Rylott said: "I have not seen anything in writing from Michael Meacher. If and when we do receive such a letter, we will seek advice from Scimac (the industry overseeing the trials) and the scientific steering committee. But until then, the trials will go ahead as planned."
A spokesman at Ryton Gardens said: "As far as we know the trial is going ahead, but we are waiting to hear if anything has changed."
COMMENT, PAGE 8 GRAPHIC: FARM PROTEST: Friends of the Earth protesters at the gate of the field to be used for the trials of the GM crop and (inset) MP Andy King.