05 February 1999
First protest target evicts GM crops

A NORFOLK farming estate, which was the target for Britains first protest squat against GM crop trials, has halted such testing on its land.

Crown Point Farms in Kirby Bedon has ended its relationship with Novartis Seeds and Monsanto because of the controversy about GM trials, their high profile media coverage and a direct action campaign by activists.

Novartis was licensed to continue GM trials on the estate until 2002 and Monsanto until 2003. But estate manager Roly Beazley said it had been decided to terminate the agreement.

“There is a huge public debate over GM crops and a lot of public disquiet. Crown Point Farms does not wish to be in the middle of all this,” he said. The crop squat at Kirby Bedon by 30 protesters last year ended after the estate went to court to obtain a possession order.

Novartis Seeds spokesman Richard Powell said it was becoming more difficult to rent land for GM trials because of the controversy surrounding them.

“We would like to see more positive directions on GM research given by the Government and its agencies so that trials can go-ahead without interference,” he added.