3 items re Gill's claims about intimidation and violence
Press Association Newsfile May 10, 2001, Thursday 10:48 AM
Pete Riley, food and biotechnology campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: "Ben Gill is living in another world.
"Opponents to the Pembrokeshire GM sites included farmers, some of whom are NFU members. "Unlike Mr Gill, they are following NFU advice to provide consumers with what they want and it's clear that they want GM free food. "Mr Gill should get out of his circle of biotech friends and start talking to farmers and consumers on the ground."
LOAD-DATE: May 10, 2001 [Entered May 10, 2001]
Press Association Newsfile May 10, 2001, Thursday 10:20 AM
Dr Brian John, one of the campaigners who succeeded in halting the GM trial at Mathry in Pembrokeshire told PA News: "Ben Gill's statement is wildly inflammatory and he is in danger of splitting the NFU on this. "Some of the farmers here are so angry, they can bring themselves to speak on the phone about it "I don't see how he can keep his organic farmers on board, it is unbelievable. "He is trying to raise the temperature and make it a law and order issue. "But the fact is the protests were good humoured and disciplined and every event has been policed. People took part in fun things like cycle rides, it was all very civilised."
Tom Latter, an organic farmer from Pembrokeshire told PA News: "There may have been people who were threatening.
"But if there were, they were not part of our campaign and it doesn't surprise me if people thought along those lines. "To use Ben Gill's words, the whole community has been "horrified, angered and frustrated" by the proposed GM trials. "Our campaign was entirely open and within the law, but the science of GM crops has not been articulated clearly by either the Government or the NFU."
NFU LEADER 'HORRIFIED' BY GM PROTEST THREATS
Amanda Brown, Environment Correspondent, PA News
Press Association Newsfile May 10, 2001
Farmers are being threatened with intimidation and violence from campaigners protesting over the Government's GM crop trials, it emerged today. National Farmers Union leader Ben Gill today said he was "horrified and angered" and called on Home Secretary Jack Straw to ensure the police took action instead of waiting until someone was hurt. He said farmers taking part in the trials should have special police protection from militant activists. One Pembrokeshire farmer has already pulled out of the scheme because of the "severe pressure" and threats, Mr Gill told a London news conference as he launched the NFU's election manifesto. He is considering writing to both Prime Minister Tony Blair and Mr Straw urging action to crack down on the menace.
Details of the grid references for farm scale trials of GM crops are available on the Internet and Mr Gill said he supported the Government's policy of openness. But farmers who took part also had a right to protection. Mr Gill said: "Those people who are being open, have an expectation of protection from those who are hell-bent on destruction.
"They are very small minorities, loud minorities but very frightening minorities. "I do not know who the people are who are perpetrating these attacks in south west Wales and I am not blaming one particular body. "But I do know that we need to get the arguments very clearly articulated and we need to have Government ministers who back those people fully and broadly. "I understand Mo Mowlam, the Cabinet Office minister, has done that and I hope every other minister will follow that line, up to the election and the new ministers do after the election."
Mr Gill added: "Ministers should decry publicly these attacks and make it clear they think they are wrong and the Home Secretary should ensure that proper policing is carried out in those areas. "The farmer concerned told me that the police were just waiting, and they would not take action until a tractor had been burnt and machinery destroyed or crops destroyed, or somebody was hurt. That does seem to me unacceptable. "I am horrified, angered, frustrated that one of our members in south west Wales had to withdraw from one of the trials as a result of the threats to his own, his family's and broader family's safety."
Mr Gill said the farmer had received telephone calls in the middle of the night with threats to destroy the trial and machinery. "These are properly, legally approved trials that have been hi-jacked by single issue pressure group, that I cannot in any way believe I want to be associated with and my council yesterday gave that firm message. "It's down to the new government to ensure that when this is over, that they put in place proper protection from those of our members who want to do this and ensure they are not bullied on this or any animal welfare aspects that we have been bullied on before," Mr Gill said. LOAD-DATE: May 10, 2001 [Entered May 10, 2001]