CORRECTION: Trustees destroy GM site to save organic potential

10 June 1999


A STORY published by FWi on Monday 7 June suggested that farmer Captain Fred Barker destroyed a GM crop trial after objections from his children.

This was not the case.

Capt Barker is chief executive of the farming company looking after Lushill Farm, Hannington, Wiltshire, but he owns only part of the farm estate himself.

Around 1,100 acres of the land, including the GM trial site, is held in a trust set up for Captain Barkers five children and future generations of his family.

The GM trial was destroyed by Captain Barker following strong objections from the group of trustees rather than objections from the children themselves.

A corrected version of the story follows:

Trustees destroy GM site to save organic potential

By FWi Staff

ONE of the countrys largest test sites of genetically modified (GM) crops has been destroyed on the orders of the trustees of the farm on which it was grown.

Captain Fred Barker killed the crop of oilseed rape last Saturday (5 June) following strong objections from the trustees looking after the farm for his children.

The 26-acre trial was destroyed at Lushill Farm, Hannington, Wiltshire, with weedkiller although Captain Barker remains a strong supporter of the GM campaign.

“This in no way diminishes my personal belief in GM crop technology, and the potential benefits it holds for British agriculture,” said Captain Barker.

But the farms trustees feared that the farm could loose its potential organic status because of the trial.

A spokeswoman for the pro-organic Soil Association welcomed the move, saying the GM trial site was too close to organic crops being grown nearby.

“The Government should be taking responsibility for cases such as these, she said.

There are eight organic farms within a six-mile radius of Captain Barkers Farm.”

A spokesman from the company responsible for the seed, AgrEvo, said he was “deeply disappointed” at the premature end to the GM trial.

The trial had aimed to answer questions over environmental impacts of GM crops, he said.

The Supply Chain Initiative on Modified Agricultural Crops (SCIMAC), which is supported by biotechnology companies, said it too regretted the decision taken by the trustees.

“However, this isolated decision in no way detracts from the long-term significance of these studies,” said a SCIMAC spokesman.

“The remainder of this years farm-scale plantings are still in place and will form the basis for continuing evaluation of the ecological effects of GM cropping.”

This latest incident follows the announcement from CPB Twyford last month that it was to pull out of the testing of GM varieties because of the threat from vandalism.

The Cambridgeshire-based seed company said the risks involved were too great to continue with trials.

See more