20 September 2000
GM campaigners cleared of damage

By FWi staff

LORD Melchett, executive director of Greenpeace, and 27 other supporters have been cleared of criminally damaging a genetically modified crop.

The environmental campaigners were acquitted of the charge at Norwich Crown Court after a two-week trial which ended on Wednesday (20 September).

They had gone on trial on 4 September on charges relating to a high-profile Greenpeace protest on a farm at Lyng, Norfolk, on 26 July last year.

During the protest, an experimental crop of GM maize was cut down and sealed in bags as part of a campaign to highlight opposition to the technology.

A previous trial in April resulted in all the campaigners being acquitted of theft. The jury failed to reach a verdict over the charge of criminal damage.

Speaking after the acquittal, Lord Melchett said: “Were extremely happy with the verdict, which totally vindicates our campaign to prevent genetic pollution.”

He added: “We are delighted that an English jury was convinced that the Greenpeace volunteers were rightly acting to protect property and the environment when they cut down and bagged the crop of GM maize.

“We now call on Government to end the GM farm-scale trials before any further genetic pollution of the environment occurs.”

Lord Melchett said: “Greenpeace wanted to remove the GM maize in Norfolk because we believe that GM crops will inevitably contaminate the environment.”

“The UK Governments own commissioned advisors, the John Innes Centre, told them that contamination was inevitable, but they chose to ignore that advice.”