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Campaigning against genetically modified food and crops

Farm scale trials announced in Notts for 2000

Two large farmscale trials of GM crops have been announced for the ADAS research centre at Meden Vale in the Sherwood Forest area of Notts. The Government has announced 50 sites nationally to date (9 May 2000). 26 will grow oil seed rape or forage maize for Aventis (formerly AgrEvo). 24 will grow sugar beet or fodder beet for Monsanto. (Details from  the Cabinet Office website .) The trials at ADAS will be: Aventis oil seed rape at map reference SK596695, and Monsanto sugar beet at SK599706.

In 1999, FOE groups supported protest walks to ADAS where Aventis oil seed rape was being grown on a smaller scale, and to a site in Ruddington near Nottingham where Monsanto sugar beet was being grown (see  GM rambles  page).

FOE forces Meacher to admit farm-scale trials are illegal

In September 1999, Environment Minister Michael Meacher admitted that AgrEvo's farm-scale trials of GM oilseed rape are illegal, following a legal challenge from FOE. However, he is refusing to require AgrEvo (now called Aventis) to pull up the crops. Three out of four trials were planted before the court ruling. The fourth trial was halted by Notts farmer David Rose after strong opposition by local people at a parish meeting. He is, however, going ahead with a small trial. (You can see details of Rose's farm at www.farmeco.co.uk.) FOE is considering legal options to force the government to comply with the law. The government wants upto 75 farm-scale trials planted in the next year.

Alan Simpson launches GM Liability Bill

Alan Simpson, MP for Nottingham South, presented a Bill to the last session of Parliament. It would make producers of GM foods and crops liable for any health or environmental damage they cause. FOE helped to draft the Bill which would make directors as well as companies liable. It may be reintroduced in the current session.(Full details on separate page.) FOE has also written to all directors of every biotech company which holds a consent to release GMOs in the UK, warning they could incur civil liability under existing common law for damage caused by GM releases.

Simpson and FOE force Government climbdown

Alan Simpson also supported a successful legal challenge to government GM policy before Easter 1999. This was organised by FOE and backed by an all party group of MPs. The Government was accused of wanting to license GM seeds without parliamentary scrutiny, but they rapidly climbed down. This should mean that licensing will take 2 years extra and be more rigorous.
Updated 14 May 2000 [next page]