AN INVESTIGATION was launched yesterday after protesters cut down areas of
the last field of genetically modified crops in Scotland.
Police in Fife said they were making inquiries into the damage to GM oilseed
rape plants at Wester Friarton Farm, Newport-on-Tay, near Dundee. No arrests
have been made.
Protesters said the plants had been chopped down overnight as part of an
ongoing campaign in which another trial GM crop at Daviot, Aberdeenshire,
was damaged last weekend.
The action is the latest setback to Scotlands GM crop programme, after the
Scottish Executive abandoned a farm trial at Munlochy, on the Black Isle,
following pressure from campaigners.
In January, the Scottish Parliaments health and community care committee
published a report that cast doubt on the Executives claims that there was
no risk to human health linked to GM crops.
The report, which was welcomed by protest groups such as the Munlochy Vigil,
claimed that public health risk assessment procedures were "flawed" and
voiced alarm over monitoring procedures.
A spokeswoman for the Fife protesters said: "That massive swathe of dark
green now scythed across the bright yellow slope of the flowering field
shout of the peoples defiance against the madness of GM farming.
"It expresses peoples serious fears for the safety of public health, for
consumers right to choose GM-free food and their fears of a long-term
"This field of GM rape is now the last one standing in Scotland since
Aberdeenshire saw its already damaged one at Daviot finished off last
weekend by nocturnal protesters.
"Both fields were attacked last November under cloak of darkness, with a
giant symbolic cross scraped into the Fife field on St Andrews night."
The spokeswoman added: "A MORI poll last month showed the majority of
Scottish people are still wary and opposed to GM food and crops.
"Well-attended local public meetings in Newport-on-Tay have shown even
stronger opposition to the GM field scale trials.
"Food pollution fears were inflamed by the publicised discovery last year
that traces of GM DNA were found in the honey of a local beekeeper. Local
organic farmers now fear for the future purity of their produce."
A spokesman for Fife Constabulary said: "An investigation has been launched
by police in Cupar into damage that has been caused to a field of GM crops."
A spokesman for the Scottish Executive condemned the attack, saying the
field posed no threat to public health. He said: "We recognise that people
have concerns about GM crops, but taking illegal action against other people
s property is unacceptable.
"It is important that all facts surrounding GM foods are debated in the open
in an honest and transparent way.
"The destruction of crop sites is counter-productive, as it prevents
collection of scientific information with which an informed decision can be
taken in the future.
"The GM crop being grown at Newport-on-Tay as part of the final round of
farm-scale trials has been assessed thoroughly over many years for its
impact on human health and the environment. It would not be grown if there
were any doubts about its safety."
Friends of the Earth Scotlands head of research, Dr Dan Barlow, said it was
unacceptable for individual Scottish communities to have to accept
He said: "In its recently published partnership agreement, the Scottish
Executive said that it wished to exercise the precautionary principle when
it comes to the planting of GM crops. However, there is absolutely nothing
precautionary in the way these farm-scale trials have been conducted so far.
"The open-air experimentation we have seen poses an unacceptable threat to
"Instead of stopping to ask whether we even need GM crops, communities have
nevertheless had trials foisted upon them. We hope no other communities ever
have to be forced to put up with GM crops as they have in Fife,
Aberdeenshire and the Highlands."
Last June, four people were arrested following a protest against GM
the Fife farm.
An estimated 250 people from across Scotland converged on Wester Friarton
Farm in an event billed as a "Tea in the Field" protest, involving
barbecues, music, stalls and speeches.
Organisers said about 70 anti-GM crop demonstrators trampled on crops.
Scotland GM free