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UK Bio-technology Feature Archive

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Bayer Abandons GM crops in India and UK

21-11-2004 12:03

15th Nov: In an admission of immense significance to the entire genetic engineering industry, Bayer Crop Science has conceded to Greenpeace India that all of its projects on genetically engineered crops in India have been "discontinued" [see newswire report | Bayer Admission Letter (pdf) | Greenpeace Statement]

"We don't need genetically engineered crops to feed India," said a genetic engineering campaigner for Greenpeace India. "Around the world, in fact, the promises made by the genetic engineering industry have been unfulfilled, whether of increasing crop yields or reducing pesticide use."

This retreat follows other recent decisions that set Bayer back - on 9th November Bayer Crop Science removed the last 2 GM crop varieties still in the approval process for the UK National Seed List [see report]. Previously in March 2004, the company announced they would be pulling out of GE crop research in the UK. A few months later, in June, Bayer announced they would not pursue commercialization of GE canola in Australia. Bayer's letter to Greenpeace India following direct action against the company, concedes that research into engineered cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, tomato and mustard seed has all been halted.

"It is clear that popular resistance to genetic engineering is not diminishing as the industry had hoped it would," said Doreen Stabinsky, GE campaigner for Greenpeace International. "No matter what country we're talking about, consumers are on the same page. They don't want to eat genetically engineered food. That's good news for farmers and good news for the environment."

For more see: Indymedia UK Biotech Section | Biotech IMC | Genetics Action | CBGnetwork

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Sainsburys Blockaded Nationally [updated]

02-07-2004 11:54

Sainsbury's chilled food distribution centres were blockaded across the country on Thursday in protest against GM feed being fed to dairy cows. Sainsbury’s five biggest UK distribution centres were shut down as evironmentalists and consumers simultaneously blockaded the supermarket chain's chilled-goods depots in London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol and Sheffield. They were chained together through steel tubes, or sat up scaffold tripods, blocking the depot gates. The co-ordinated action was intended to halt distribution of Sainsbury's dairy products that come from cows fed GM animal feed.

The protest follows Sainsbury’s failure to provide non-GM fed milk as standard, despite rivals like Marks and Spencer and the Co-op doing so. The action was taken in solidarity with farmers, demanding they get a fair deal of 2p on the pound for non-GM milk. The coalition of groups campaigning on this issue includes Farmers for Action, the Small and Family Farmers Alliance, The Small Farms Association, the Wholesome Food Association, the Institute of Science in Society, Genetic Food Alert and the Genetic Engineering Network (see GM animal feed campaign PDF). Also see National press release

Local reports: Birmingham report, photos and video | London
Yorkshire | Liverpool [ 1 , 2 ] and photos [1 | 2]
Bristol report and photos
Sainsbury's Essex Waltham Point Depot Blockade Report
See also Genetic Engineering Network

In a related action, farmers in Barnstaple blockaded a Sainsbury's store, while consumers and campaigners labelled GM milk inside the store: report and press release here.

Latest news:
Cows leaflet shareholders are Sainsbury AGM - Monday 12th July
Store demo in Plymouth - Saturday 10th July
Farmers vist Welsh store - Saturday 10th July

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Where have all the GM trials gone?

14-04-2004 11:36

victory (for now...)
Hot on the heals of Bayer's withdrawal of Chardon LL GM maize comes yet another confirmation that all is not well for the UK GM crops industry. For the first time in over 10 years, research reveals that none of the Gene Giants (Syngenta, Monsanto and Bayer) are conducting any UK field trials of GM crops.

This year sees a massive reduction in the total number of GM field trials in the UK from a peak of 159 in 2000-2001 to 42 in 2002-2003 to just 1 in 2003-2004.

This may have something to do with the fact that 91 trials out of 476 have been damaged or destroyed in the last five years. This has had a significant impact on the industry because the majority of those targeted were the national seedlisting trials, which are compulsory for the seed licensing process .

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Bayer Come a Cropper

31-03-2004 10:57

Bayer test
Bayer have withdrawn the only GM crop with (partial) commercial approval. They blame government regulation and caution for holding up the crop which is now technologically and economically obsolete. However it has taken five years to get just one crop this far, which has been the result of the delays caused by the many crop trashings, lobbying, blockades, research and not a little consumer pressure.

When a government announces commercialisation of a GM crop, and then three weeks later, the very large multinational company responsible withdraws it from commercialisation, it would be a fair assumption that someone, somewhere, has put a spanner in the works.

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GM Activists - what next? ...Get Sainsbury's.

22-03-2004 18:42

exeter cow 1
With the commercialisation of the first GM crop, currently dormant activists maybe wondering what to do next...Well, activists all over the country (especially in Devon!) have been targeting Sainsbury's GM-fed dairy products. This has been done by bandit labeling, crazy giant maize, and dancing on the roof almost a whole herd of crazy gm-fed cows...

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Bayer and the criminalisation of dissent

11-02-2004 12:08

Today (Wednesday 11th), in the High Court in London, Bayer AG (the German pharmacuetical and chemicals giant) sought to make permanent an interim court order against six named individuals and five 'organisations' which effectively turns previously lawful protest activities into a criminal offence.

The judge gave his ruling on Friday 13th, upholding all of the conditions previously requested. Defendants have 28 days to make a case against the ruling,until then, the interim court order obtained in December will remain effective.

Lawyers outlaw protest where UK governments fail

Using the Protection from Harassment Act, the injunction places severe restrictions on the freedom of expression and ability to protest, for anyone that could be shown to be working in concert with the named organisations (which include two websites!).

Obviously this has far reaching implications for everyone. The simply act of reporting on events relating to the campaign against Bayer, or walking or parking in some streets in Oxford and Cambridge, could become a criminal offence for anyone that might be shown to have knowledge of the injuntion and be connected in some way to one of the named injunctees (perhaps having visited the StopBayerGM website).

Previous report | Court order on bayer's site | Schnews on Injunction |
More on this from the Indymedia topics Bio-technology page.
Global news on the bio-tech threat from the Bio-Tech IMC

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Topic introduction

10-02-2004 03:31

What part of no GM did you not understand?
The anti GM movement in the UK has been remarkably active and successfull. During the last seven years or so a highly diverse and imaginative campaign has delayed the onset of widescale commercial planting of GM crops in the UK and also provided inspiration for people around the world.

On the Indymedia UK biotechnology topic page you should find pretty much all the articles posted to Indymedia UK on this subject.

If you are interested in the wider campaign against GM on a global scale, it would be well worth checking out the global Biotech IMC website:

Full article


09-02-2004 20:40

According to a their PR department, Bayer has totally respect for the rights of groups and individuals to "promote the discussion of current issues" such as GM crops, but "wishes to ensure that any protesting activity stays within the law and does not involve the harassment or intimidation of its employees".

And as if to demonstrate their respect for the rights of people to protest by lawful means, they obtained an injunction that effectively turns previously lawful acts into criminal offences.

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Bayer Targetted in Widnes

05-01-2004 20:36


On Thursday 11th December half a dozen Lancastrians made their way to a pesticide manufacturing site in Widnes to protest against Bayer's involvement in GM crops. Some of them entered the building, whilst others help up banners, made lots of noise and leafletted the staff car park. Work was disrupted for two and a half hours, as staff locked themselves into their offices and site security barricaded the gates against the protestors. People inside the building eventually got to discuss Bayer's GM involvement with the site manager and demanded that Bayer pull out of GM now.

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Pink Castle Now Guilty!

18-12-2003 03:04

On 15th December 2003 a District Judge in Weymouth, Dorset found four anti-GM activists guilty of aggravated trespass for attaching themselves to tractors. The activists were attempting to prevent the sowing of a trial of GM maize near Weymouth in May 2002.

This marks the end of a drawn-out and contradictory legal process which saw all four activists cleared of aggravated trespass by the same District Judge in March 2003. The Crown Prosectution Service (CPS) appealed and had the verdict overturned by two High Court Judges who ordered a retrial, with instructions that the defendants should be found guilty. The four now face prison for refusal to pay the punitive costs.

Full Report | video | audio | earlier verdict one two | background history | Pink Castle website

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West Country Activists Make a Big Noise

15-11-2003 16:08

Bayer Noise Demo - Report
togg, 15.11.2003 10:44

Around 100 anti-bayer campaigners gathered outside Bayer HQ in Newbury on Thursday and made a horrible bloody racket.

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Once More Into The Aisles Dear Friends...

08-11-2003 22:19

Despite Promises, Supermarkets have still not removed GM fed dairy produce from their shelves, to show customers the 'missing ingredient', totnes genetics group have now made three visits to Sainsbury's in Torquay, Newton Abbott and last Saturday, (22nd Nov) Plymouth...

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GM Nation?

27-10-2003 20:33

What part of no GM did you not understand?

In the largest procedure of its kind in the world, the UK government wanted to make sure that the introduction of GM crops in the UK would be based on scientific facts and public approval. For a change it seems to have been good that they have done so. It is now obvious that the public are against GM food and GM crops, and the trials showed that herbicide tolerant GM crops can be worse for the environment than conventional agriculture.

Public meetings were held all over the country, a website gave the opportunity to state one's opinion, a scientific commission wrote a report, and farm-scale field trials where conducted over several years. All of these results are now going into a final report (overview). Besides this official programme numerous actions took place. Meanwhile some GM companies have decided to reduce their activites in the UK.

[ Corporate Watch UK | Genewatch | GMwatch |Green Gloves Pledge | Stop Bayer's GM crops! | Greenpeace UK | Friends of the Earth | | Guardian GM debate | GM nation? Official Website | Full text of reports on GM field scale evaluations | BioTech IMC ]

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GM out of Yorkshire! IMC Leeds talk to Bayer bashing local activists

26-10-2003 23:00

Leeds campaigners have been part of a national Direct Action campaign to kick German lifescience multinational Bayer out of coomercialising Genetically Modified crops in the UK. Bayer, holding 9 out of the 11 applications for GM crops, are 1st in the queue if the UK government gives the green light to commercialise the growing of GM crops.
IMC Leeds talked to Leeds' anti Bayer campaigners to find out more... Read the interview...
More info at the Stop Bayer website


Full article | 3 comments

Jonny cycles through Edinburgh on anti-gm pilgrimage

05-10-2003 14:21

Jonny arrives at Usher Hall
Jonny Barton cycled through Edinburgh on a fresh autumn Sunday morning on his pilgrimage from Inverness for a demonstration on the 13th of October in London, pulling a coffin behind him for the whole way.

The progress of Jonnys journey can be followed via his website.Map of his planned tour, by Sheffield IMC.

2 activists from Totness,see Westcountry Indymedia are on the way, and 2 other activists have been [ 1,2] passing by Bayer and Monsanto, reported on Cambridge Indymedia. In total 20 pilgrims, including 73 years old Mary Keynes, are cycling or walking to London to raise awareness for the issue of GM food and crops and to participate in the Tractor and Trolley Demonstration.

For more background information: [Bio-technology special page,LABB leaflet, Biotech Indymedia].

Full article

GM corporation to stop trials due to direct action

04-10-2003 01:21

Bayer CropScience - previously known as Aventis have - has announced that they now intend to stop testing crops in this country. Just less than 2 months ago anti-GM activists at the Earth First Summer gathering decided to target the company company Bayer Crop Science. Several actions have already been carried out but this announcement comes before the campaign could properly get going.

Bayer made clear that direct action played a major role in their decision. Dr Julien Little of Bayer CropScience was cited as saying: "(...) if we are not going to get anything out of [trials on oil-seed rape] because they are wrecked there is little point so this year we will not be doing any."

Bayer had asked the government to allow vaguer descriptions of test sites so that they could not be found and trashed by activists. But the proposal has been vetoed.

Links: Full reports [1],[2],[3] a Bayer update, background info on Bayer, Stop Bayer campaign

Full article | 2 comments


26-09-2003 11:59

A group of protesters yesterday raised their own anti-GM flag at the Bayer CropScience factory in Widnes, to hammer home the message given by the British public in the government’s recent consultation – NO to GM crops in the UK!

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GM Debate? The People Speak

19-07-2003 19:39

During the last six weeks, unknown to most people, there have been a series of public debates up and down the country about whether the government should allow the commericalisation of GM crops in the UK. The deadline for public input is now over - did you have your say?

In an exclusive film made for Indymedia, people from all over the country reveal that the public consultation was a poorly advertised, ill concieved and miss-managed farce that failed to engage ordinary people. The film also demonstrates that much of the public believe that the decision has already been made to push ahead with GM (regardless of the will of the people) and that the government is an undemocratic tool of U.S. interests and big business.

Watch the video,

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Dawn raid on GM research station

29-06-2003 15:32

During the early hours of Sunday morning, 29 June, almost sixty members of the public broke into the grounds of GM giant Syngenta's reasearch station at Jealott's Hill near Bracknell, Berkshire. They pulled up a 600 sq metre research plot of experimental wheat.

Syngenta had government consent to plant upto 35 by 20 metres of genetical modified wheat. In a press release, protesters claimed that if allowed to pollenate, it would have spread GM material into the surrounding countryside...

For Photos [updated]Click Here
For Video [latest edit]Click Here

Full article

Direct action against GM crop trials

25-03-2003 23:00

Three anti-GM activists had their convictions for pulling up GM crops quashed in the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Saturday. The crops, genetically modified oil seed rape, were pulled up as part of a protest at Boghall farm in Midlothian. The convictions were quashed four years to the day after the action.
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