31 July 1998

Wrong maize ruined

ENVIRONMENTAL protesters who set out to destroy a trial plot of genetically modified maize have uprooted the wrong crop and wrecked a seven-year-old research project.

The protesters target is believed to have been an acre of GM maize near Totnes, Devon. Instead they destroyed seven years of research on how foreign, conventional varieties of maize adapt to British growing conditions. The cost of the damage is estimated at £10,000.

A group calling itself the Devon branch of the Ethical Consumers Association has claimed responsibility for the raid.

The modified maize is still standing. It was at the centre of a high-profile court case earlier this month, when farmer Guy Watson, whose organic sweetcorn is growing in a neighbouring field, failed in his attempt to have the GM trial halted.

Mr Watson argued that he could lose his organic status because of the risk of cross-pollination from the trial crop. &#42