19 June 1998

OSR plot wrecked

A TRIAL plot of oilseed rape, genetically modified to produce palm kernel oil rather than rapeseed oil, has become the latest victim of anti-GM campaigners.

The plants, being grown by the Scottish Agricultural College at Boghall Farm, Penicuik, near Edinburgh, were ripped from the ground last weekend by about a dozen protesters who mistakenly believed they were destroying rape that was modified to resist Monsantos herbicide Roundup.

Kerr Walker, head of agronomy at SAC, said the action was disappointing because the crop not only offered the chance to cut the UKs palm oil import bill by millions of £, but could also help stem the destruction of rainforests.

"We import all our palm kernel oil and the bill runs into millions. More importantly for the world environment, demand for this oil exceeds supply and rainforests in Malaysia and Indonesia are being chopped down to make way for oil palm plantations.

"The burning of the rain forest is causing the haze and both health and environmental problems across south-east Asia yet these people, calling themselves environmentalists, choose to destroy trials which could help resolve the problem," Dr Walker said.

A statement from the protesters, referring to the Roundup resistant crop, said: "By taking direct action we are sending a clear message to the corporations that are trying to force this new technology on us. Genetic crops are not wanted or needed.

"What we really need is an end to the greed of corporate giants that think they can literally own life for profit. It is time that these faceless boardroom directors stopped hiding behind dubious science, and irresponsible humanitarian claims, and accepted the wishes of the people of Europe." &#42