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CIVIL SOCIETY ACTIVITIES: UK activists ruin GM potatoes







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TITLE:  ACTIVISTS RUIN GM POTATOES

SOURCE: Cambridge Evening News, UK

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/city/2007/07/09/187aafb9-66da-418f-8e25-e72fda3d909f.lpf

DATE:   09.07.2007

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ACTIVISTS RUIN GM POTATOES

 

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Protesters decontaminate the UK's last remaining GM potato trial

read more about the GMO controversy in the UK at Indymedia UK Bio-Technology

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/topics/bio-technology/

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PROTESTERS have destroyed genetically modified potatoes being grown as part of a scientific trial in Cambridgeshire.

Campaigners scaled security fences in the early hours Saturday to get into the field between Girton and Histon, and pulled up the crop, which is being developed to be blight resistant by German-based company BASF.

News of the action was posted on grass roots campaign website Indymedia UK by a correspondent known as ”Digger”, and it follows a protest march last week when two people were arrested.

The message read: ”The potato plants were already flowering, spreading genetic contagion into the surrounding countryside.

”Public concern and demonstrations had failed to sway NIAB, the National Institute for Agriculture and Botany, who are carrying out the five-year trial on behalf of BASF.

”Friday’s action follows the latest in a series of protests, on the previous Sunday, when demonstrators marched on the potato field. On that occasion, they were met by overwhelming numbers of police, and two participants were arrested. This time, however, no such obstacles were met.”

BASF is now was assessing the damage and condemned the protesters’ actions.

The company had stepped up security at the site, following threats to the trial, and obtained a High Court injunction banning people from entering the field.

A spokesman said: ”While we understand some people have concerns about the technology, we are appalled they should resort to trespass and criminal damage to prevent legitimate scientific research.

”Those who have concerns should make their views known in a constructive way.

”The BASF GM potato is a significant development in finding an effective tool to combat the fungal disease late blight.

”Research translates scientific advances into tangible benefits for society, and we believe GM technology brings benefits to the farming community and food chain.”

David Cole, from Devon, was fined £85 with £75 costs by Cambridge magistrates on Tuesday for removing crop labels from potatoes at the NIAB site during a previous protest, while Martin Shaw, 42, from Oxford, denied damaging a security fence and will stand trial later this summer.

Professor Wayne Powell, NIAB’s chief executive, said: ”We set out to deliver independent scientific evidence on GM crops which would allow an informed debate to take place on the future of this technology.


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