10 June 1998
By Johann Tasker in Lincolnshire
ENVIRONMENTALISTS have denied that protesters who destroyed a crop of genetically modified spring wheat made a mistake because it formed part of a non-commercial trial.
The protesters, who called themselves the “Lincolnshire Loppers”, uprooted the wheat early yesterday (Tuesday) morning at the Cereals 98 event at Sleaford, Lincolnshire.
The crop was a demonstration of a non-commercial trial by the Institute of Arable Crop Research (IACR), rather than an exhibition by one of the large multinational life-science companies, which are also present at the event.
But Martin Shaw, spokesman for the Genetic Engineering Network, which monitors attacks on GM crops, said: “I dont think it was a mistake, but the crops that are being released by commercial companies are of greater concern.”
Professor Ben Milfin, director of the IACR, said the institute had planted the wheat to generate discussion about GM crops. He had no commercial interest in the project he said.
“We put this test plot out to show the public what GM wheats looks like,” he said. “I just regret that people have seen fit to destroy it.”
Two other plots of GM crops – oilseed rape – on display at Cereals 98 as part of the commercial exhibition were left untouched.