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Dorset’s ‘Pink Castle’ GM Crop Protesters Charged
Who..... Nick-named the ‘Littlemoor Four’, these are the four people who were arrested while attempting to prevent the planting of one of Dorsets many farmscale GM trials.
Where.... They were arrested in the field near Littlemoor (Weymouth), after ‘locking-on’ to tractors being used by farmer Charles Foot to plant the controversial GM maize trial.
When.... The four were arrested on the 16th May then released on bail to appear at Weymouth police station on Sunday 2nd June, to find out if they would be charged.
What.... At the police station on Sunday, they were charged with ‘Aggravated Trespass’ (Section 68 of the infamous 1994 Criminal Justice Act). “They would not accept a caution they have done nothing to be ashamed of.” - Ben Leary (Supporter)
Why..... “We welcome the chance to highlight the unscientific and unethical nature of these trials and the dubious motives behind the governments release of GM crops into the open countryside.” - Liz Snook (one of the Littlemoor Four)
A brief diary of recent GM events, open debate, and democracy at work
25th April “We erected a 20ft timber framed ‘pink castle’ in a field near Littlemoor. We hoped to prevent the Aventis GM maize trial being planted there for the second year running.” Liz Snook (anti-GM protester)
26th April - British anti-GM activists took the campaign abroad. Bayer is the new owner of Aventis CropSciences (the company responsible for the majority of the GM crops in the UK, including the GM maize Chardon LL. Campaigners disguised as shareholders invaded Bayers AGM in Germany to relay messages of resistance.
27th April - Interview reveals that in an experiment to test Aventis’ GM maize suitability as a cattle fed, twice as many chickens died when feed Chardon LL, as those fed on conventional maize. This coincided with the reopening of the public hearing into the suitability of Chardon LL for commercial cultivation.
7th May “In order to highlight the bogus science behind GM crops, we staged a ‘chicken die in’ and dug up seed on one of the GM maize trials that had already been planted.” - Ben Leary (Anti-GM campaigners from the Pink Castle)
16th May - Three weeks into the Pink Castle occupation, farmer Charles Foot succeeded in planting field (aided by a digger, six tractors, a police helicopter and up to 80 police officers). Only two thirds of the field was planted - the castle and its occupants remain to this day to defend the rest. Last year, locals destroyed 70% of the GM trial on this site.
18th May - A leaked government document reveals plans to silence critics of GM by rushing through changes in the law so as to remove the right the public currently has to object to the commercialisation of GM seed varieties.
23rd May - Tony Blair condemned GM protesters and said that he could see “no health risk”' in GM foods. He called for the debate to be “won between open minds” but his vested interest in the industry was exposed a few days later.
24th May - A suppressed European Commission report warned that it is 'virtually impossible' to stop cross-contamination from GM crops and that it would be very difficult and costly to maintain organic standards. In an letter sent to the EC, Barry McSweeney (director-general of the Joint Research Centre which compiled the report) wrote “Given the sensitivity of the issue, I would suggest that the report be kept for internal use within the Commission only.”
25th May - In response to moves to silence anti-GM campaigners, 350 people stood silently hand in hand among a field of GM oil seed rape in Munlochy, Scotland the scene of a series of crop trashing during the last couple of months.
26th May It was revealed that the minister responsible for regulating bio-technology has made millions from GM shares. Lord Sainsbury's shares in a leading biotech investment company, Innotech, rose from £26.9m in 1998 when he became Minister for Science and Innovation to £42.6m today. The billionaire peer, who also owns shares in other biotech companies, has donated £9m to the Labour Party, nearly half of it since assuming office.
2nd June - Government announce plans for a national debate on genetic manipulation technology. This come just days after a Downing Street memo was leaked and revealed the governments intention to run a multi-million pound ‘education campaign’ through the media hoping to promote the ‘benefits’ of GM to the increasingly sceptical British public.
Tomorrow - The European Commission’s proposed GM food labelling scheme will be put to the vote June 4th. The US is threatening a trade war over the tough new proposals for all food using GM ingredients to be labelled. The UK government is currently backing the US position who are threatening to involve the WTO if the scheme goes ahead.