11 May 2001
Gill hits out at anti-GM ‘bullies’

By Tom Allen-Stevens

FARM leader Ben Gill has criticised activists for intimidating farmers taking part in genetically modified crop trials and forcing one producer to pull out.

The National Farmers Union president also criticised the police and local officials for not stepping in to help the farmer concerned.

“Im angered that one of our members had to withdraw from GM trials as a result of threats to his own and his familys safety,” he said.

The farmer concerned was Meurig Raymond, who farms Tony Marlows farm in Pembrokeshire, Wales, and is vice chairman of the NFU cereals committee.

Activists called neighbouring farmers, telling them they would not be able to sell crops or stock because of contamination from the planned GM maize trials.

Mr Raymond said he had also received calls in the middle of the night and anonymous, offensive letters.

Meanwhile, activists hurled abuse at former Tory MP Mr Marlow and his family, trampled flower beds and knocked on doors and windows.

In a separate incident, a local contractor planting maize who had nothing to do with the trials, was told his machinery would be wrecked if he carried on his work.

“Its a very vocal minority of people doing the ranting and raving and inciting the violence,” says Mr Raymond.

“The majority of the farming industry are in favour of these trials going ahead, but people are too frightened to put their heads above the parapet.”

Mr Gills main concern was the reaction of local officials and the Welsh Assembly, which was against the GM crop trials from taking place.

Local Labour MP Jackie Lawrence, had joined anti-GM protests and the decision to pull out was welcomed by Welsh rural affairs minister Carwyn Jones.

“Its beholden on everyone in the political arena to decry these attacks that are being made,” insisted Mr Gill.

“And its down to the government to put in place proper protection to ensure these farmers are not bullied.”

He said it should be a priority for the next government to review its law and order policy to ensure these sorts of threats are investigated thoroughly.

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