11 April 2000
Farmer slams ‘unethical’ GM trial

By David Green

AN ORGANIC farmer angry at the drilling of a GM sugar beet trial close to his boundary has claimed that the “ethics” of the situation are suspect.

John Dove of Home Farm, Stow Bedon, Norfolk, said he was not consulted over the decision to hold the trial which, he believes, could threaten his livelihood.

“If I had been growing organic beet, which we might do next year, my Soil Association certification could have been withdrawn,” he said.

Mr Dove said the first he had heard of the five-acre trial was when a friend saw a public notice in a local newspaper.

He asked the landowner, Breckles Grange Farming Company, not to allow the GM crop to be drilled, but the work went ahead last Sunday (9 April).

Mr Dove was given an assurance that the GM crop would be harvested before pollination took place and that “bolters” would be removed by hand.

“I understood that neighbouring landowners would be consulted before a trial was given the go-ahead,” he said.

“It is particularly important for organic growers and I question the ethics of this whole situation.”

Mr Dove, began converting to organic farming more than a decade ago. Ironically, he used to own the land on which the trial is taking place.

He sold the land, together with his conventional sugar beet quota, to Beckles Grange Farming last year.

The company has apologised to Mr Dove for its lack of communication about the trial, and the trial has been moved to about 150 yards from his boundary.

Villagers have expressed their concern about the trial taking place. But Simon Leech, farm manager for Beckles Grange Farming, declined to comment.