Trustees destroy GM site to save organic potential

07 June 1999

Trustees destroy GM site to save organic potential

By FWi Staff

ONE of the countrys largest GM test sites has been destroyed on the orders of its farms trustees. Captain Fred Barker killed the crop of oilseed rape on Saturday following strong objections from his children whom he had made trustees to look after the farm.

The 26-acre trial was destroyed at Lushill Farm, Hannington, Wiltshire with weedkiller despite the fact that 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 his children feared that the farm could loose its potential organic status because of the trial.

A spokeswoman from the Soil Association welcomed this move. The crop would have been against organic standards and were an unsafe distance away from his organic land, she said.

“The Government should be taking responsibility for cases such as these. There are eight organic farms within a six-mile radius of Captain Barkers Farm.”

The Soil Association claims the trial GM site would also have put all these other farms at risk.

A spokesman from the company responsible for the seed, AgrEvo said it was “deeply disappointed” at the premature end to the crop. He said the trial had aimed to answer questions over environmental impacts of GM crops.

Supply Chain Initiative on Modified Agricultural Crops (SCIMAC) 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 spokesman for SCIMAC.

“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 is a further set back for the Government and 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.

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