16 July 1999

Norfolk producer says GMtrial is necessary

A NORFOLK farmer has defended his decision to allow GM crop trials on part of his land, despite anger at what some local people believe was a lack of consultation by officialdom.

William Brigham, who farms at Lyng, near Dereham, publicly declared his involvement in GM maize trials some weeks ago when he sought to justify the case for experimentation.

However, anger at the presence of the trials was expressed at a public meeting at Lyng at the weekend attended by more than 100 people, about one third of them thought to be from the village.

Concerns were expressed about the safety of GM crops and the risks faced by other growers and consumers.

Mr Brigham did not attend the meeting but a statement from him was read out by Des DSouza, biotechnology communications manager with AgrEvo, the firm conducting the trials at Lyng.

The statement said: "We offered the land for the maize trial because we believe there is a need for properly and independently monitored and controlled trials, to answer the questions so many are asking.

"It is our belief that there are enormous environmental benefits to be had from GM but feel it is necessary to make sure there are no downsides.

"It is vital that this trial goes on to completion. We can only assume that those people who would seek to destroy these trials are afraid the results may prove them wrong."

Mr DSouza accused Lord Melchett, director of the Greenpeace environmental group and one of the speakers at the meeting, of encouraging anarchy by calling for the Lyng trial to be destroyed.