4 September 2000
Judge says GM technology not on trial

By David Green

JURORS at the retrial of Greenpeace activists accused of damaging genetically modified crops were told not to decide whether the technology is good or bad.

Greenpeace executive director Lord Peter Melchett and 27 other activists are on trial for the second time at Norwich Crown Court.

All the defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charge of criminal damage to a field of GM maize at Lyng in Norfolk last year.

The charges relate to an attack on a GM trial being conducted by Aventis on the farm of William Brigham.

A separate jury failed to agree a verdict at the original trial earlier this year.

Judge David Mellor told members of the new jury today that they might have their own views on the GM issue but these were not relevant to the trial.

You should keep in mind what this trial is not about, he said.

It is not about whether GM crops are good for the environment or the economy or whether they are bad for the environment or the economy.

Judge Mellor told the jury that it had to decide, on the evidence presented whether or not the charge of criminal damage was proven.

The case continues.