SnowBall archive


GE - Party and Demonstration as GE goes on trial

GE - Party and Demonstration as GE goes on trial

29th March 1999  9.30am 
Plymouth Crown Court - Devon

Two women are charged with 'conspiracy to cause criminal damage'. The
amount of
damage has been calculated at a riduclous £605,000.
This is an unmissable opportunity to show what the public really thinks about
releasing genetically engineered material into the environment. 
Show them you agree that the removal of the local GE test site was necessary
and in the public interest.
It is essential that there is a large presence on day one. There will be
and music and a party atmosphere as genetic engineering goes on trial. Please
feel free to bring your own banners and instruments also.

On 3rd August 1998 twelve people were arrested in connection with the
destruction of a test site of genetically engineered herbicide-resistant
Two women are now going on trial to defend their actions. The women admit that
they removed the genetically engineered maize, and now is the chance to prove
in a court that the action taken was necessary and in the public interest. The
GE maize was being grown next to an organic farm, with no safeguards to
cross-pollination with the organic maize next door.  It was also right next to
bee hives whoes occupants visited the maize and produced honey that was at
of being contaminated by GE pollen. All test sites are grown in the open air,
with nothing to stop random and unpredictable genetically engineered organisms
irreversibly entering our environment and our food chain. The test site had
been ruled unlawful in an earlier court hearing,  but the judge claimed he was
powerless to order its removal.

The system that is meant to protect us has failed.

"There are moments and issues in history where Parliament is inadequate and it
falls to the people themselves to act. With the case of genetic engineering
the granting of patents on life I believe we have reached one of those
-Alan Simpson MP

Coaches will be provided from Totnes - leaving from The Plains at 8.30am.
buy tickets beforehand so we know how many to book. 
Tickets £2 each from Arcturus, 47 Fore St, Totnes or Harlequin Books, 41 High
St, Totnes
For further information please call:  07970 873643 or 07930 564667 or 0845 666
There is a possibility of some accomodation available on the night of the
You can also call GEN on: 0181 374 9516.


The court case is expected to last three weeks.
There has been huge local support with over 3,000 locals having signed
petitions backing the action. Previous court appearances have seen over 300
people turn up and being entertained by the most creative GE theatre pieces as
well as samba bands and moving talks from various locals.
Expert witnesses are scheduled to appear to back up the arguments of the
Scientific witnesses will include: 
Dr Vyvyan Howard
Dr Sue Mayer
Dr Ricarda Steinbrecher
Prof. Brian Goodwin
Dr Jean Emberlin - Author of the recent report on maize pollination

Many other expert witnesses are also scheduled to appear. They aim to back the
defendants beliefs that there is/are dangers posed to organic and conventional
farming from GE crops, dangers posed to bees including the contamination of
honey, failure of the regulatory system at both UK and EU level, lack of
and lack of democracy etc (more details of the list of witnesses and the
that they intend to cover to follow shortly).

Hope to see you there.
Genetic Engineering on Trial

During the next six weeks genetic engineering will be put on trial in two
court cases across in UK and Ireland as other campaigners also face charges
crop pulling.  Five women, and the press officer, from GenetiX snowball, face
Monsanto in the civil courts. The Biotech company is seeking damages and
injunctions following the pulling up of a GM oilseed rape trial last summer-
call 0161 834 0295. And in Ireland a number of individuals face Monsanto in
courts after the destruction of a GM Sugarbeet trial during the last
year.Contact: David Philip, at VOICE Voice of Irish Concern for the
14 Upper Pembroke Street, Dublin 2. or telephone:  Ireland + 01 6618123
Fax: + 
01 6618114
A fourth case in Scotland was heard last month,  4 activists were fined a
of £1,800 for “malicious mischief” and aggravated trespass. All have vowed to
continue their campaigns against GMO’s.

Full press briefing to follow:

Devon case: R v Sheedy and Snook (Case No. T980556)

Date and place of court trial: Plymouth Crown Court, starting 29th March 1999.
Defendants: Jacklyn Sheedy and Liz Snook.  9 other people were later
arrested in
connection with the same incident and are still awaiting a decision as to
whether they too will be charged (they will learn this on 9th April, after the
start of the court trial).
Charge: Conspiracy to cause criminal damage worth £605,000; the charge
carries a
maximum sentence of 15 years in custody.
Date and place of incident: 3rd August 1998, at Hood Barton Farm, near Totnes,
Devon.  This test site had already been the subject of controversial judicial
review proceedings, which had sought to establish that the decision to
authorise the trial was unlawful since it had not taken account of the
of an organic farm owned by Guy Watson.  In July 1998, the Court of Appeal had
ruled that, although the crop trial breached seed listing regulations, the
court had no reason to order it to stop.
A few days after the judgement, under the gaze of the site’s security guards,
several people, including many concerned locals, took part in an action to
up the GE crop.  
The action has had enormous support in the surrounding area with over three
hundred people turning up to earlier court appearances and over 3,000 people
signing a local petition in support of the action taken. Earlier in the year
600 local people had walked to the GE ‘test’ site to object to the then
upcoming planting. See the local group’s website:
core.html  for the full story.
Crop involved: T-25, a variety of herbicide-resistant maize developed by
Sharpes. It is designed to be resistant to glufosinate ammonium herbicide, aka
Liberty or Basta and is produced by AgrEvo. T25 also uses the cauliflower
mosaic virus as a promotor. The trial was being run by NIAB.
The defendants will argue that they had a lawful excuse for their actions.
Criminal Damage Act states that lawful excuse may include actions taken to
prevent damage to one's own or another person's property rights or interests,
as long as the action taken was proportionate to the damage feared.
The defendants will argue that:
· they were acting out of concern for public health and the wider environment,
the public's right and ability to choose to eat non-GE food and the
implications for sustainable agriculture, particularly in the developing
· specifically, they feared that the test site may have led to
contamination of
other nearby crops (including the neighbouring organic crop),  causing them to
lose value;
· their action was justified by the inadequacies of the regulatory process,
specifically the fact that court action had failed to protect Guy Watson's
organic crop;
· the maize was about to pollinate,  hence the danger of contamination was
imminent, and the defendants believed with good reason that it could not be
prevented by other means.
Expert witnesses will be called to testify that:
· wind-borne pollen can travel considerably further than has been allowed
for in
the regulations governing crop trials;
· bees can also carry pollen, over even greater distances (there is a beehive
adjacent to the field); moreover, the bees' honey could itself become
contaminated and enter the food chain;
· other maize crops in the vicinity could become contaminated (by
cross-pollination or other means), which could devalue those crops if they
(or were perceived to be) a risk to human health;
· there are many diverse ways in which the introduction of GE crops (and this
crop in particular) could cause harm to human health, the environment and
biodiversity, and the stability of agriculture in developing countries;
· the regulatory framework governing this trial had not taken account of
many of
the potential risks (notably cross-pollination by bees and economic damage to
adjacent crops), and failed to comply with the precautionary principle in
accordance with European Union directives;
· the regulations had, in any case, been breached by the crop trial.
· inspections of release sites totally inadequate