1.Donnie MacLeod is a free man again!
2. GM: PROGRESS OF VIGIL PETITION
2.Bayer not targeting Britain
1. Donnie MacLeod is a free man again!
Donnie was released from prison this morning. Please come along to the press conference and 'welcome home' at 2pm today at MacLeod Organics, Ardersier.
Highland News, w/e 29/3/02
BRAVE WORDS FROM A PRISON CELL
I am writing this from my prison cell at Porterfield Prison in Inverness. It has taken me 53 years of living on this planet to achieve this new experience courtesy of Sheriff James Fraser at Dingwall Sheriff Court.
There has just been a very noisy demonstration outside that could be heard through the bars on the window and I wished that I could break open this metal door to thank the 300 or so people showing their support.
But I am not free to do so.
I have received about 200 letters of support from people all over the country and I would like to reply to them.
But I am not free to do so.
For the last week I have not been a free man in the physical sense of the words. But that week has allowed me to reflect on what freedom is all about.
There are very few people who are truly free. We all have responsibilities of one kind or another. Freedom itself carries great responsibilities towards others. Each and every one of us has responsibilities towards others. That is why, when I am released, I fear that I will have a responsibility to continue my direct actions against the deliberate contamination of the Highlands by the biotechnological multinational moguls for their profit.
I ask myself why do I have to do it and not someone else? It simply stems from the fact that I am in the privileged position of being in possession of the facts behind the GM crop trial farce and am aware of the reasons behind it. Couple this with the fact that I am in a position of being able to do it, and you have the reason.
I believe that my imprisonment was a political tactic to try and intimidate other protesters against taking direct action against the iniquitous GM crop trial at Munlochy.
Therefore I think it is important that everyone is aware of the core issues and not sidetracked by 'red herrings'.
For the avoidance of doubt we need to consider who are the opposing forces in this struggle.
On one side we have Aventis, one of the group of vastly wealthy biotechnological giants whose turnover is bigger than some small countries.
Their object is to increase their wealth by gaining control of our food.
They have patented their process of changing the genetic material that makes up living things. Therefore any farmer that grows crops from their seed will pay them royalties. They see the marketplace as vast because everyone on the planet has to eat food to survive. The best genetic modification to suit their purpose is the one where the plant is modified to be resistant to their own specific herbicide which could then be sprayed in fields and kill all living things except their modified plants. Great way to remove the competition and it has the benefit of making profit from the toxic poison as well.
However, their big problem is that people around the world do not want to eat this GM food until they know it is safe and that it will not spoil things on our fragile web of life. If people have a choice it has been continually shown that they will choose natural food. They are not prepared to take the risks associated with this technology.
So what is the solution for them? Very simple! Just stop people from having a choice. Make sure that the plants are allowed to grow all over the world and let their dispersal into the environment do the job. Once all land that can grow food is contaminated then people will have to eat it or starve!
How can that be done! They aim to achieve their goal by using their enormous wealth and power to remove any freedom that may exist.
On the other side of the struggle we have the will of the people who live, work and play on this planet. Specifically, with regard to Munlochy, we have the Highland community. The Highland community does not have the enormous wealth and power of those biotech corporations. All we have is our history of standing up for freedom and a recognition of our clean environment.
We have a collective will to see justice being done and our commitment to the cause will make Munlochy one step too far for the money-making moguls.
The buck has stopped here and on behalf of the rest of the world if we win then the GM companies will be pushed back out of the Highlands, then Scotland, then the UK and then Europe before too much damage is done.
One big problem we have is that our public resources are being used against us. We pay our taxes in order to have institutions that can act in our interests.
Many of those institutions appear to be operating to the benefit of the other side of the struggle. They seem to have lost their freedom to act in the public interest. The wealth and power of the biotechnology giants has somehow got a hold on them. I claim that this is not fair and we must make efforts to reclaim 'their' freedom. The institutions that I am referring to are:
1. The prisons - In the last week we have been told that the prisons are overcrowded, so why am I here when there is an alternative penalty?
2. The courts - How many thousands of pounds are wasted of the public purse to attempt to convict protesters on this issue?
3. The Procurator Fiscal's office - The PF is supposed to act solely in the public interest so why are they wasting resources in bringing forward unsuccessful cases against the illegal planting of GM crops. Planting GM crops illegally is a crime with a [pounds]20,000 sentence or six months imprisonment. At the same time we read of how stretched the PF9s office is and how further funding is required.
4. Legal Aid - An effort was made to try to prevent any GM protester being allowed legal aid as is their right.
5. The police - It is almost unbelievable that the police force should be put in a position of having to put vast resources into helping plant the GM crop against the community's wishes. Who would have forecast a wealthy farmer having his tractor escorted by police vehicles and the full compliment of personnel whilst he was planting unstable GM crops. To make it worse there were lots of local women and children running around the field in horror trying to get them to stop.
This takes me back to freedom.
We need to look very closely at freeing those people in order to allow the to serve the people who are contributing to the public purse instead
of those who are hijacking it.
HUNDREDS SHOW THEIR SUPPORT FOR DONNIE
DONNIE Macleod's homecoming follows a protest march on Saturday through the streets of Inverness to the prison at Porterfield where he was being held.
Over 300 people of all ages turned up for the rally to show their support for Donnie and their concerns about GM crops.
Some supporters had even travelled from Fife where a new GM crop trial is due to be put in the ground.
Dr Kenny Taylor of Highlands and Islands GM Concern, who addressed the crowd, said: 'Donnie already commanded huge respect and popularity in the community. His stance on this matter has only added to his status and the political pressure on the government to pull the plug on GM trials in Scotland.'
Donnie (53), chairman of the Highlands and Islands Organic Association, was given a prison sentence at Dingwall Sheriff Court after he refused to give evidence at the trial of Matthew Herbert, alleged to have damaged crops on Jamie Grant's Rhives Farm at Munlochy.
A cross was marked out in a field of oil seed rape on general election day last year.
Donnie, an organic farmer at Kylerona, Ardersier, told the court he had put the cross in the field and that it was 'the first vote of the day'.
But he refused to say whether anybody else in the courtroom had helped him.
He was jailed for contempt and the case against Matthew Herbert was dropped.
*A petition signed by thousands of Highland GM protesters was due to go before the Scottish Parliament's transport and environment committee yesterday.
2. GM: PROGRESS OF VIGIL PETITION
Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2002 12:04:03 +0000
PLEASE CIRCULATE WIDELY!
This is to thank you all for the e-mails to the Transport and Environment Committee.
A brief report on yesterday's meeting: there was concern shown on all sides. The result of this is that it has been referred directly and again as a matter of urgency to the Scottish Executive, ie the Minister Ross Finnie.
This may not be the best way to get the trials stopped, but it would certainly be the fastest.
Therefore we are urging you once again to e-mail/write to Mr. Finnie within the next two weeks, as he has to finish his report by the end of the Easter recess.
The Transport and Environment Committee members received over 100 e-mails each, in 3 days - a wonderful effort!! THANK YOU!
If we can get 500 or even 1000 to Finnie he would know just how we all feel! So please circulate widely.
The points to stress are new evidence of environmental risks, especially:
* the EEA report: which states that GM oilseed rape is a high risk crop for crop to crop and crop to wild relative cross-contamination, which "increases the likelihood of extinction of wild relatives" (thus reducing biodiversity), as well as threatening the livelihoods of conventional and organic farmers.
* The English Nature report: which states the inevitability of the rise of multiple herbicide resistant "superweeds", necessitating the increased use of damaging herbicides such as paraquat and 2,4D (derived from agent orange)
* Sunday Times: (Feb 17th 2002) which states that leaked preliminary results from the trials, show that GM oilseed rape is "damaging the environment".
* FEMS report from Canada: Which shows that the soil around the roots of GM oilseed rape is altered.
* Also stress the issues of democracy and environmental justice, health risks, BMA policy/Charles Saunders (Herald 2nd March 2002) economic problems for conventional + organic farmers + the lack of a market for GM produce (an EU survey shows that 79% of consumers will not eat GM) .
It will also be worthwhile to lobby Chales Kennedy + Jack McConnell, as well as the local MSPs, urging them to make representations to Finnie over the Easter recess on the above issues.
Finnie has said he will pull the trials if he has evidence of a threat or risk to the environment. He now has this evidence.
He has been forced to look at this, let's try to get him to keep to his word.
the above are MPs at: House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1A 1AA
or by post: Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh EN99 1SP
For any more information contact:
Anthony Jackson on 07720 817 847.
3. Bayer set to turn the UK into one huge test site or NOT?
Sent: Thursday, March 28, 2002 4:31 pm
On March 18th an email titled 'Bayer Targets Britain' was sent out on the NGIN list and has been the source of some confusion. The email included the text of an article that appeared in the Independent on Sunday ‘German GM giant to exploit opening in Britain's relaxed environmental laws’ by Leo Lewis (17,03,02)
The gist of the article is that Bayer by entering into the process of buying Aventis CropScience had struck a deal that would allow it to move its GM crop testing programme out of Germany and into the UK. According to the article Bayer are deliberately exploiting discrepancies between environmental legislation in different EU member countries. The article also claims that GM crop field trials are soon to be banned in Germany (but as we are all well aware they are all too freely allowed in the UK).
On the basis of this article several people had expressed a concern that the UK is going to see an increase in the number of GM crop trials as it becomes ‘the sole testing ground for Bayer GM crops’.
As far as I can tell this isn’t the case.
Yes Bayer are in the process of buying Aventis (and will therefore be running the majority of farm scale trials in the UK this year). However, I don't think the purchase of Aventis was a calculated ploy by Bayer to enable them to shift their GM field trials to the UK, in order to circumvent restrictive legislation in Germany. Prior to buying Aventis CropScience Bayer seems to have had almost no research and development interests in GM crops. What Bayer are doing is acquiring Aventis”š existing crop science interests which includes GM field trials in the UK and elsewhere in the EU including Germany.
Whilst the article states that the German government are planning to ban GM field trials in Germany, I have been unable to substantiate this from any other source. This morning a well informed German GM campaigner had not heard of any such legislation, and gave the impression that ‘a chance would be a fine thing’.
When Bayer complete buying Aventis CropScience they will inherit the dubious honour of being the company doing most to commercialise GM crops in the UK and EU, which is reason enough for campaigners and activists to be on their case. However, I think that it is purely a coincidence that this purchase comes at the same time as the German government are rumoured to be in the process of moving towards a ban on GM field trials.
At present there is nothing to suggest that the Bayer acquisition of Aventis will contribute directly to an increase in the number of GM field trials in the UK.
There is very little information in the public domain about the nature of the new Bayer CropScience (apart from some fairly predictable hype in the new Bayer annual report
and the announcement of the new board of directors
The deal was meant to have been completed by the end of March 2002, as yet no launch date for the new company has been given, but it can only be a matter of weeks away..