Hundreds back GM activists in court

25 August 1998

Hundreds back GM activists in court

By FWi staff

A CROWD estimated at 300 gathered outside a Devon courtroom this morning in support of two environmental activists charged with ripping up genetically modified (GM) crops.

Elizabeth Snook and Jacklyn Sheedy pleaded not guilty to causing £605,000-worth of damage to an area of experimental genetically-modified maize at Hood Barton Farm, near Dartington, earlier this month.

The two women were among 12 people arrested by police following raids on houses in the West Country, Sheffield and London. The remaining 10 people were released after questioning.

Totnes magistrates bailed the women to appear at court again on 17 November. Until then, the women must report daily to their local police station and must remain indoors at home from 10pm-6am.

The GM maize crop belonged to Sharpes (Advanta) and the National Institute of Agricultural Biology. It will cost more than half a million pounds to repair the damage and replace the lost research data, said Sharpes spokesman Dr Thomas Jolliffe.

The crop was at the centre of a recent high court action brought by organic farmer Guy Watson, who failed to have it removed.

Local environmental campaigners collected 1500 signatures on a petition declaring that the destruction of the crop – though illegal – was in the public interest because of the Governments failure to halt the crop trial.

“Its not the two women who have committed a criminal act, its the corporations who are pushing unnecessary and unwanted technology onto the public with no consultation and increasing evidence of dangers to health and the environment,” said Totnes-based environmentalist Luke Anderson.

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