Dig up illegal gene crops, farmers told

16 December 1999

Dig up illegal gene crops, farmers told

By Donald MacPhail

ENVIRONMENTALISTS have written to farmers urging them to dig up sites of genetically modified oilseed rape which are not covered by legal consent.

Friends of the Earth has written to 20 farmers in England and Scotland growing GM oilseed rape on 24 sites, including three farm-scale trials.

The letter reads: “FoE believes the that these winter rape crops should not be in the ground and should not remain there.

“We respectfully urge you, as strongly as we can, to consider destroying them.”

The action follows a High Court Order last month confirming that government permission allowing the crops to be planted was illegal.

The government admitted in September that it had wrongly given permission for a series of tests by agrochemical and biotechnology company AgrEvo UK.

FoE had accused the government of bending the rules to allow AgrEvo to increase the area of GM crop trials in time for planting in the autumn.

It also claimed that government officials allowed AgrEvo to change the GM crop being tested without submitting a new application.

Environment minister Michael Meacher said later he was concerned that green activists might attack the remaining sites in Lincolnshire and Hertfordshire.

“We are concerned about their protection and the police are obviously concerned that they should not be damaged or destroyed or violated in any way.”

Crops on a similar site in Norfolk were destroyed by members of Greenpeace in the summer during a raid which saw 30 protestors arrested.

Friends of the Earth is currently considering whether it can legally force the destruction of the GM sites.

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