11 June 1999
by Vicky Houchin
ENVIRONMENTAL protesters who rip up trials of genetically modified (GM) crops are fascists, controversial barley baron Oliver Walston claimed today.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4s Today programme, Mr Walston said militant protesters who raided GM were similar to Nazi thugs.
He said there was no difference between the protesters and somebody who smashes into your house, rips the books out of your bookcases and burns them on the grounds that theyre going to pollute the minds of the younger generation.
Mr Walston was defending an article he wrote for The Daily Telegraph in which he invited plant breeders to carry out trials of GM crops on his land.
His announcement comes in the same week that one of the UKs largest farm trials was destroyed following strong opposition from the farms trustees.
With mounting resistance from farmers to GM crops, and the number of trial sites halving in the last year, Mr Walston said only trials could settle the argument.
Like every farmer Ive got to know, he said.
Is it good, is it bad, is it damaging, is it not damaging?
He told the programme he felt confident that the trials carried out so far were very, very tightly controlled, by the UK Government and the European Union.
Mr Walston said that he had invited breeders to grow the GM trials on his farm in defiance of what he called mob rule by green groups.
But he admitted that by doing so he would risk attacks on his land.
If any idiot wants to come onto my farm and destroy my crops I would deal with him in the same way that I would if they burned my field of wheat, he said.