Document Directory

14 Sep 99 - GMO - Cunningham hints at secret GM sites
11 Sep 99 - GMO - Details of GM crop trial sites may be kept secret
11 Sep 99 - GMO - GM trial locations may be kept secret
11 Sep 99 - GMO - Secrecy will be stepped up for next GM trials
09 Sep 99 - GMO - GM crop trials 'are not tough enough'
08 Sep 99 - GMO - GM scientists scent key to fragrant roses
08 Sep 99 - GMO - Quest to revive tasty tomato and sweet rose
31 Aug 99 - GMO - Enzyme eases fear over GM superbug
25 Aug 99 - GMO - GM Crops `Only Kill Harmful Insects'
22 Aug 99 - GMO - Whitehall's top GM man quits
20 Aug 99 - GMO - Environmental group launches legal challenge to GM crops
20 Aug 99 - GMO - Rivals maul Sainsbury GM ad
20 Aug 99 - GMO - Spread of GM Crops Trebles in One Year
20 Aug 99 - GMO - M&S move on GM food
18 Aug 99 - GMO - Kennedy pushes for tougher GM trial controls
18 Aug 99 - GMO - Kennedy Backs Tight Controls On Gm Food
18 Aug 99 - GMO - Kennedy attacks GM guidelines
18 Aug 99 - GMO - Festive turkeys to be GM-free
17 Aug 99 - GMO - This is a search for the truth, says farmer
17 Aug 99 - GMO - Four new GM test sites revealed
17 Aug 99 - GMO - Farmer braced for protesters' raids
17 Aug 99 - GMO - Seeds of dissent
17 Aug 99 - GMO - Ministers reveal GM sites on Internet
17 Aug 99 - GMO - I'm angry about being pinpointed. It is impossible to protect a field
17 Aug 99 - GMO - Government braced for more protests
16 Aug 99 - GMO - Sabotage Warning As GM Test Sites Disclosed
15 Aug 99 - GMO - 'Impartial' GM trials chief in favour of modified crops
15 Aug 99 - GMO - GM police to guard crop trials

14 Sep 99 - GMO - Cunningham hints at secret GM sites

By Polly Newton, Political Staff

Telegraph ... Tuesday 14 September 1999

The locations of test sites for genetically-modified crops could be kept secret if protesters continue to destroy them, Jack Cunningham hinted yesterday.

Mr Cunningham, the Minister for the Cabinet Office who oversees Government policy on GM crops, said that if tests could not continue openly because of the risk of destruction, "then we shall have to consider alternatives ". He said he did not believe that point had yet been reached, but he was monitoring the situation and examining other countries' policies.

He was speaking after Sir Richard Sykes, the president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, said that GM technology had little future in Britain because of the unbalanced debate about its development. Sir Richard told the association's festival of science in Sheffield: "What is certain is that the development of this technology will continue elsewhere in the world, and its full potential and rewards will be realised by our competitors."

Mr Cunningham told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that GM crop testing was essential "not to test the food safety but to gauge the impact on the environment". He said: "We can't allow a situation where premeditated vandalism prevents us building up the scientific knowledge we need to make informed decisions."

Tim Yeo, the shadow agriculture minister, said that any decision to hold GM crop trials in secret would break the Government's previous commitment to openness and increase public concern.

11 Sep 99 - GMO - Details of GM crop trial sites may be kept secret

By David Brown, Agriculture Editor

Telegraph ... Saturday 11 September1999

The Government may restrict information about new trial sites for genetically modified crops in an attempt to thwart sabotage attacks by "green" pressure groups, it emerged yesterday.

The move, which was condemned by environmentalists but welcomed by farmers, came after David Rose, a farmer from Bingham, Notts, confirmed that he had pulled out of field-scale experiments to grow GM oilseed rape. His farm was among four field trial sites - three of which have been planted as planned. He will grow a smaller trial plot of GM crops instead.

Michael Meacher, the environment minister, said: "It's very disappointing to see farmers forced out of a programme they believe in because they can't tolerate the intimidation meted out to their friends and family. We do need to think carefully about the amount of detail that we publish about field trial locations." Details of the fields of the four farms had been advertised beforehand, in line with Government policy, complete with map references.

Mr Rose and his neighbours feared that the site - which was close to a road - would be a prime target for an attack by anti-GM food extremists.

Mr Meacher's warning confirmed that the Government was taking greater notice of complaints by companies and farmers that they need more protection against extremists who have vowed to wreck GM trial sites. It coincided with an announcement from AgrEvo, one of the main international companies involved in GM crop research in Britain, that the three GM oilseed rape sites - one near Hemel Hempstead, Herts, and two near Lincoln - had been planted as planned . The company said a fourth site - in Lincolnshire - to replace Mr Rose's farm would be announced in a local newspaper.

The firm's decision upset environmentalists who had expected the company to abandon its British testing programme - a move which would have dealt a devastating blow to the development of GM crops here.

Charles Secrett, the director of Friends of the Earth, last night attacked the Government and AgrEvo. "The Government will not be able to get away with holding the trials in secret," he said. "The public has a right to know what is going on, rather than having GM crops forced on it."

11 Sep 99 - GMO - GM trial locations may be kept secret

Audrey Gillan

Guardian ... Saturday 11 September1999

The government yesterday threatened to keep future locations of genetically modified crop trials secret after a farmer announced that he had withdrawn from a trial because he was afraid of sabotage. The environment minister, Michael Meacher, said ministers would think carefully about the amount of information they published about field trial locations.

"It's very disappointing to see farmers forced out of a programme they believe in because they can't tolerate the intimidation meted out to their friends and family," he said.

Home Farm, near Bingham, Nottinghamshire, was one of four sites announced last month where "field-scale" tests of winter oilseed rape would begin, with exact grid references given for the fields .

It emerged two days ago that David Rose, who runs Home Farm, had withdrawn because he was afraid the field set aside for the experiment on the edge of his farm was vulnerable to attack from environmentalists. He will plant a much smaller trial crop elsewhere.

But Mr Meacher vowed that GM research would continue. "Despite the difficulties they have to endure. You can see farmers are still keen to join the field trials. Farmers are as concerned as everyone else to find answers to environmental questions," he said.

His remarks were criticised by Friends of the Earth, which has applied for a judicial review of the decision to press ahead with the field-scale tests. "The government will not be able to get away with holding the trials in secret," its director, Charles Secrett, said. "The public has a right to know what is going on, rather than having GM crops forced on it after secret testing."

Mr Rose also condemned plans to conceal GM trial locations and said it would be a "great shame" if the public were kept in the dark.

Mr Rose withdrew from the scheme after villagers said they thought the proposed site was too near them. The farmer agreed to the GM trial as part of an investigation by the agrochemical company AgrEvo into ways of reducing the use of fertilisers on farms.

"We decided we would look at the ways GM technology can benefit the environment and put ourselves down as a proposed site. That was leaked to a newspaper before we could explain to the local people what was going to take place. Consequently that put everybody's back up," he said. "We had a meeting and some of the villagers said 'we are against GM technology' and some said 'we are against the site'. The majority of people said 'we are actually interested but we don't think the site is the right location - right next to a village'."

Several test sites have been targeted by protesters. In July, Greenpeace activists destroyed a field of modified maize at Lyng, Norfolk.

A site to replace Home Farm has been chosen in Lincolnshire and will be announced today. The three other trial sites have already been planted. Friends of the Earth had hoped to delay planting of the new trials beyond September 25, the time by which the oilseed rape had to be sown.

But Mr Meacher insisted that the government would press ahead with the trials. He said there was no legal reason to delay the sowing, which would begin regardless of the judicial review scheduled for mid-October.

11 Sep 99 - GMO - Secrecy will be stepped up for next GM trials

By Valerie Elliott And Nick Nuttall

Times ... Saturday 11 September1999

Greater secrecy for future genetically modified crop trials is being planned by the Government after another farmer has withdrawn from environmental tests. Instead of publishing site grid references in local newspapers, only a general geographic location based on council area or parish will appear .

The proposal is based on a system used in France and is among options drawn up by officials. Ministers will meet urgently before the month's end to decide the way forward.But they are still reluctant to impose a German-style blanket ban on naming sites.

Today they will announce the site of the fourth GM oil seed rape trial - at Glebe Farm , Bracebridge Heath, in Lincolnshire.

Michael Meacher, the Environment Minister, yesterday hinted at the latest move: "We do need to think carefully about the amount of detail that we publish about field trial locations."

He spoke out as AgrEvo, the biotechnology company providing GM seeds and paying farmers to conduct the tests, said yesterday that they had gone ahead with three GM crop trials - backed by the Government - despite a High Court challenge by campaigners over their legality. The court hearing is not due until the middle of next month.

AgrEvo will also publish details of the fourth site in today's Lincolnshire Echo, possibly the last announcement giving exact map references . Ministers are concerned about farmers and their families being threatened by anti-GM campaigners and limited site information would give greater protection. Mr Meacher said yesterday: "It's very disappointing to see farmers forced out of a programme they believe in because they can't tolerate the intimidation meted out to their friends and family."

Some farmers contemplating carrying out trials have had dead animals nailed to their front doors and their children have been bullied or forced off the school bus, it was also claimed yesterday.

David Rose, 40, of Home Farm, Screveton, Nottinghamshire - the latest farmer to pull out of trials - confirmed yesterday that a dead crow had been hung at the home of a neighbour with whom he shares farm machinery.

His main reason for pulling out, however, had been the concerns of nearby farmers about the proximity of the trial site.

09 Sep 99 - GMO - GM crop trials 'are not tough enough'

By Charles Clover, Environment Editor

Telegraph ... Thursday 9 September 1999

Government trials of genetically modified crops this autumn have left the head of Britain's first biotechnology company "uneasy" because he suspected that they were not rigorous enough .

John Jackson, chairman of Celltech Chiroscience, a publicly-quoted biopharmaceutical company with a market value of 760 million, said yesterday that, while he was "absolutely certain" that testing of GM crops should continue, he was concerned about their effect on human health and wildlife.

Mr Jackson, who is also chairman of the Countryside Alliance, said that "for some considerable time" people would have to "be alert to the possibility of allergy or long-term toxicity ", caused by the introduced genes.

There was also the possibility that antibiotic marker genes, used to demonstrate that genetic implants had succeeded, could cause antibiotic resistance .

"What makes me particularly uneasy, as far as the environment is concerned, are the express and implied assumptions when the trials are designed," he said. "For example, we have read quite a lot about the possibility of pollen being spread by wind or by insects from the trial ground and hybridising with related species in the wild.

"The implied assumption is that the seed germinates where it is sown. We all know that, after sowing, seed can be moved by animals such as mice and by birds. And it is unsafe to assume that it is going to germinate where it is sown. It might be carried a very considerable distance and germinate in an area where it cannot be observed at all .

"In the pharmaceutical industry, there are very, very rigorous trial procedures you have to go through before you are licensed to sell a product to the public."

Mr Jackson has headed Celltech since it was created in 1980 with the help of a grant of 5 million from the National Enterprise Board, and the blessing of Mrs Thatcher and Sir Keith Joseph. Celltech merged this summer with another biotech pharmaceutical company, Chiroscience.

Mr Jackson was speaking after Axis Genetics, a Cambridge-based biotechnology company developing a new vaccine for Hepatitis B made from potatoes, went bust after failing to attract enough investment to continue its research. The company was forced to call in the receivers when investors scared by the adverse GM crop publicity failed to come up with the 10 million it needed even though Axis only makes pharmaceutical products.

However, the company admitted that it was a sister company with the same directors of Pestax, which supplied potatoes engineered to include a snowdrop gene, which were the subject of experiments by Dr Arpad Pusztai, of the Rowett Institute, Aberdeen, that started the health scare over GM foods last year.

Mr Jackson echoed the fears of the environmental group Friends of the Earth, which has complained that the trials were designed to see the effect of the use of herbicide tolerant crops on insects but not on mammals and birds which eat them .

However, Brian Johnson, of English Nature, said the effects of the removal of insects from the food chain on animals and birds had been well documented over 40 years.

The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions is still trying to find at least 60 24-acre trial plots which will be needed next year for statistically significant tests of three GM varieties: herbicide resistant winter and spring-sown oilseed rape and fodder maize.

08 Sep 99 - GMO - GM scientists scent key to fragrant roses

By Roger Highfield, Science Editor

Telegraph ... Wednesday 8 September 1999

Genetic modification could put the scent back into popular varieties of rose and endow other unglamorous flowers with exotic new designer fragrances, said scientists at a conference in Oxford yesterday.

Roses no longer seem to smell as sweet as once they did because modern breeders have placed a greater premium on looks and long life than on fragrance.

Experts in a range of fields, from perfumery to evolutionary theory, gathered at the conference on the biology, chemistry and evolution of floral scent, in Queen's College, to discuss among other subjects the "physiology and anatomy of floral emissions" and the "genetics and biosynthesis of floral volatiles". Dr Michael Dobres, of the Philadelphia-based company NovaFlora, has studied how to insert genes into roses that would enable their petals to produce lemon fragrance molecules.

The gene encodes an enzyme called limonene synthase, which citrus plants use to synthesise scent molecules known as monoterpenes. Researchers have already inserted the gene into petunias to produce lemon-scented flowers.

Limonene synthase is one of many ways to put the smell back into scentless plants. There are hundreds of different monoterpenes, each made by a different enzymes. In future, genetic engineers will be able to create finely-honed fragrances to order in almost any plant, from lemon-scented lawns to roses with designer fragrances , said Dr Dobres.

Dr Efraim Lewinsohn, of the Newe Ya'ar Research Centre, north Israel, who has studied the flavour enzymes in basil, is now turning his attention to rose scents. "Many of the volatile chemicals in spices and other foodstuffs are the same," he said. "Many of the chemicals present in basil are present in tomatoes, for example. Some components of rose products are present in tomatoes."

He will be searching for fragrance genes that enable rose petals to exude fragrant chemicals such as monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, phenyl derivatives and other volatile compounds.

"Like any other trait, scent is caused by genes," he said. The aim is to isolate genes in fragrant varieties and reintroduce them to scent-free roses by genetic engineering within "a few years".

Several GM applications have been suggested, from blue roses and orchids that glow when they need watering to Leylandii hedges that stop growing at a reasonable height and lawns that need little mowing .

08 Sep 99 - GMO - Quest to revive tasty tomato and sweet rose

By Alan Hamilton

Times ... Wednesday 8 September 1999

Some of the world's best scientific brains are applying themselves to one of the great modern scourges - the tomato that doesn't taste of anything.

Eighty chemists and biologists met at a conference in Oxford yesterday to discuss what has happened to the taste and smell of commercially grown fruit, vegetables and flowers. They are trying to isolate the plant genes that create aroma and taste.

Naoharu Watanabe of Shizuoka University, Japan, wanted to know why "the most highly scented roses have the shortest-lived blooms. Our dream is to produce a rose that smells wonderful and lasts a very long time."

Commercially grown roses are bred for disease resistance and their ability to survive cold storage and transportation - to the detriment of their traditional sweet scent.

Ephraim Lewinsohn of the Newe Ya'ar Research Institute in Israel blamed public demand for all foods, regardless of season, for the current crop of tasteless vegetables.

31 Aug 99 - GMO - Enzyme eases fear over GM superbug

By Roger Highfield, Science Editor

Telegraph ... Tuesday 31 August 1999

The beleaguered genetically modified crop industry receives good news today with the development of a technique that enables scientists to create GM crops without using antibiotic resistance genes .

They are used by genetic engineers to track genes introduced into plants to create GM crops, allowing seedlings that have taken up a foreign gene to be identified. But there have been concerns that the crops could transfer these genes into bacteria, creating "superbugs" resistant to many types of antibiotic.

Today, in the journal Nature Biotechnology, Dr Nam-Hai Chua and his colleagues at Rockefeller University report the successful use of an enzyme involved in plant growth, rather than an antibiotic-resistance gene, so that only cells containing the newly-introduced DNA form shoots and differentiate into mature plants.

In another study, scientists have shown that a toxin used in many GM plants does not necessarily have harmful knock-on effects on beneficial insects. Maize and rape are among the crops to be modified by scientists to contain a natural toxin from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, known as Bt toxin, which is also used as a pesticide by organic farmers.

In the current issue of the journal Nature, a study by Dr Guy Poppy, Dr Tanja Schuler and colleagues, of the Institute of Arable Crops Research, Rothamsted, Harpenden, shows that the Bt toxin eaten by crop pests does not necessarily harm insects that eat the pests.

25 Aug 99 - GMO - GM Crops `Only Kill Harmful Insects'

Staff Reporter

Independent ... Wednesday 25 August 1999

One of the most detailed studies of genetically modified (GM) crops has found that they are potentially more beneficial to wildlife than conventional spraying with pesticides.

Scientists found that GM crops designed to kill insect pests had no effect on beneficial insects, which contradicts work published earlier this year showing that GM pollen can harm the endangered monarch butterfly.

The publicly-funded scientists from the Institute of Arable Crops Research (IACR) in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, showed that although GM oilseed rape can kill pests such as the larvae of the diamondback moth, it was harmless against useful insects, notably the parasitic wasp that attacks the moth larvae.

"One of the biggest worries of transgenic [GM] plants is not only how they affect pretty things like the monarch butterfly but how they affect the complex interactions in the environment," said Dr Guy Poppy, who led the research team at the IACR.

The researchers believe that GM crops might work more harmoniously with beneficial insects compared with insecticides which kill everything.

More realistic experiments that enable crop pests and beneficial insects to behave more naturally show that GM crops are less likely than chemical sprays to damage beneficial wildlife, they say.

The team investigated the effects of allowing the diamondback moth larvae to feed off oilseed rape that was genetically modified with a toxin derived from a bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

Results of the experiment, published in the journal Nature, show that parasitic wasps which feed off the moth larvae died along with the larvae when they were forced to eat the GM oilseed rape. However, the scientists showed that this was not a direct result of the wasps eating the toxin of the GM plant, but merely a consequence of having their food source destroyed.

Wasps that parasitised a strain of diamond-back moth that is resistant to Bt toxin were not harmed, even though the larvae were heavily contaminated with the Bt toxin.

In another experiment, the scientists showed that GM crops did not affect the parasitic wasps ability to locate and feed off the moth larvae.

Dr Poppy said the results indicate that pesticide resistance will be less of a problem with GM crops because they still enable beneficial insects, such as the parasitic wasp, to survive.

"With insecticide spraying you would have a worse problem because you would kill beneficial insects and not kill some of the pests that develop resistance." he said.

GM protesters have argued that British "farm-scale" trials, in which sites of several acres are being planted with GM oilseed rape and maize to assess the environmental impact, could endanger such species directly - meaning that simply by running the trials, the environment would be irreversibly affected . Some of the protesters have been arrested for damaging several of the trial crops.

22 Aug 99 - GMO - Whitehall's top GM man quits

By Marie Woolf

Independent ... Sunday 22 August 1999

Ministers have suffered a setback to the controversial farm trials of genetically-modified crops with the unexpected resignation of the senior civil servant responsible for the experiments.

Dr Bill Parish, a senior ecologist in the Department of the Environment, was the scientific brain behind the GM farm scale trials and was in charge of administering them.

The ecologist wrote the seminal research paper that changed the course of thinking about the effects of growing GM crops on the environment and was the man who first alerted the Government to their potential effects on wildlife. He was also one of the small group of experts assessing whether GM crops should be grown commercially in the UK.

Dr Parish is one of only a handful of civil servants ever to be named by ministers as a research author and his decision to leave has shocked the Government.

The scientist is regarded as "a right-hand man" to ministers and has helped shape GM policy in the European Union.

"He has an absolutely crucial job in directing policy on the GM trials and is relied on for his advice," said one government source. "He is one of the few experts we have in his field. This is a big blow to us to lose him."

Dr Parish, who has left to "pursue research", was head of the ecology branch of the Department of the Environment's biotechnology safety unit. Civil servants in the unit, which shapes policy on GM crops, have come under severe pressure in recent months because of the controversy surrounding the GM trials.

The civil servants have had to deal with the demands of biotechnology companies, which have been trying to persuade government to allow them to go ahead with commercial planting.

They have also have been responsible for liaising with farmers whose experimental crops have been destroyed or damaged by protesters who fear that they are harming the environment.

Most supermarkets have now declared their own-brand products GM-free because of pressure from consumers.

The Government recently set up a special spin-doctoring unit in the Cabinet Office to try to deflect criticism from GM foods.

20 Aug 99 - GMO - Environmental group launches legal challenge to GM crops

Mark Tran

Guardian ... Friday 20 August 1999

Friends of the Earth, the environmental group, today accused the government of breaching its own rules on the testing of genetically modified crops and launched a legal challenge to block new experiments.

"It was all very sloppy," said a Friends of the Earth official. "There was nothing like the proper procedure and this is an attempt to legally challenge the government rather than stomping in the fields."

The group today presented papers to the high court, seeking a judicial review of the government's decision last week, allowing an expansion in the growing of GM crops in Britain. According to Group of the Earth, the government bent its own rules to allow biotech giatn AgrEvo to rush through an unjustified growth in the farm scale trials.

Friends of the Earth alleged the government allowed AgrEvo to change a GM crop being tested - from spring oilseed rape to winter oilseed rape - and expand the trial area and time involved without filing a new application, which the environmentalists said was required under government rules.

The decision allowed AgrEvo to quadruple the amount of land covered by the trials, from 1,250 hectares to 5,000 hectares, the group said, and grow the crop for 12 months rather than six. Had the Department of Environment, Transport and Regions followed proper procedures, it would have told AgrEvo to fill out consent forms and might have sent the application to an advisory group set up to ensure greater scrutiny of GM development.

"We have caught the government red-handed. They have tried to bend the law to suit a giant GM company in a hurry to get its crops into the UK market," said Tony Juniper, policy director of Friends of the Earth.

The case is vital, Friends of the Earth said, because it goes to the heart of whether the public can have confidence that GM crop trials are being properly regulated by the government. "The government needs to learn that if it tries to get round the law to suit the convenience of its friends in the biotech companies, it will be caught, exposed, and then stopped."

AgrEvo is a joint venture between Germany's Hoechst AG and Schering AG and is one of the leaders in the field of biotechnology.

The department of environment this week announced four new farm scale trials at Market Raisen and Glentham in Lincolnshire, Bingham in Nottinghamshire, and Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire. Biotech companies criticised the government decision to publicly disclose the location of the new tests because environmental activists have sabotaged some sites.

The department said it would comment once it had seen the papers filed in court.

20 Aug 99 - GMO - Rivals maul Sainsbury GM ad

Julia Finch

Guardian ... Friday 20 August 1999

Advertising watchdog told supermarket group's latest campaign misleads customers The troubled Sainsbury's supermarket chain is at the centre of a row with competitors over a new advertising campaign the group is using to promote its drive to remove all genetically modified food and ingredients from its shelves.

Waitrose and Iceland have complained to the advertising standards authority about the claims made in Sainsbury's new campaign and Mark Price, marketing director of Waitrose, has written to Kevin McCarten, his counterpart at Sainsbury's, to demand he withdraw an advertisement he believes is "misleading".

Last night Iceland's managing director, Russell Ford, accused the Sainsbury group - which is battling with falling sales and has employed a new advertising agency to brush up its image - of "blatant lies" and "outrageous" behaviour which might mislead customers.

The confrontation demonstrates how important to the supermarkets the issue of GM foods and ingredients has become, and how they are using it in order to gain competitive advantage.

The Sainsbury campaign, which received widespread coverage in national Sunday newspapers last weekend, uses the line: "No genetically modified food where you see this label" over a picture of the Sainsbury's logo.

In smaller print it adds: "Sainsbury's are the first major supermarket to start making all own-label food without genetically modified ingredients. It hasn't been easy. But because it's important to you, it's important to us."

Yet Iceland, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer all claim to have eradicated GM foods before the Sainsbury group, and believe their own customers who see the adverts might be persuaded that Sainsbury's is the first and only company to have taken action.

They also maintain that while Sainsbury may have eradicated GM ingredients from its own-label foods, it cannot make the same pledge about branded goods - and that a quick glance at the advert may give that impression.

Russell Ford at Iceland said: "Given that Sainsbury's has only just removed genetically modified ingredients from its own-label range, to say it is the first major supermarket to do so is a blatant lie. Trying to mislead consumers in this fashion is outrageous."

Mr Price said: "Sainsbury's are clearly not playing with a straight bat on this."

In his letter to the ASA, Mr Price says: "I am afraid the caveat that Sainsbury's have used, namely that they were the first major supermarket to do this, does not wash."

He says Waitrose has a market share of 7% in the south of England and adds: "I have no doubt that a Sunday Times reader in Wokingham who shops at Waitrose will have been mystified and confused by Sainsbury's statement."

Mr McCarten has yet to reply to a letter sent directly to him demanding that the advertisements are pulled, but a spokeswoman for Sainsbury said the group had no intention of making any changes to the advertising campaign.

"We would never put out an advert we didn't believe was true," she said. "And we have done more work on this issue than anyone else."

The row over Sainsbury's campaign is the second time in a year the company has had problems with its advertising. Last Christmas it hired John Cleese to star in its Value to Shout About promotion, which backfired disastrously.

The group's store staff complained that it made them seem stupid, and it was voted the worst campaign of the year. Furthermore, it reduced sales as price-conscious shoppers came in to pick up the bargains and traditional middle England customers stayed away because the group seemed to be plunging downmarket.

20 Aug 99 - GMO - Spread of GM Crops Trebles in One Year

Staff Reporter

Independent ... Friday 20 August 1999

The global area planted with genetically modified crops is growing at an explosive rate, almost trebling between 1997 and 1998, according to the world's leading survey of environmental trends.

It shot up to 28 million hectares last year, more than 15 times the 1996 level, according to Vital Signs, the annual data bulletin from the Worldwatch Institute in Washington. From a start only in 1994, the land covered by GM crops by last year was already nearly the size of the Philippines, making it one of the most remarkable agricultural phenomena the world has seen. The astonishing growth is likely to continue. "It stands to soar in the near future," the report says.

The growth is concentrated so far in just three countries, the United States, Argentina and Canada, where GM crops have not met the vociferous public opposition seen in Britain, other European states and countries such as India.

And it shows just how quickly and profoundly national agricultures can be transformed by the giant GM multinationals such as Monsanto, once they are given their head.

In the US, for example, where farmers began sowing genetically engineered crops in 1994, the report says that by last year more than a third of the soybean crop was genetically modified, as was nearly a quarter of the corn (maize) and 20 per cent of the cotton.

About 55 per cent of the Argentinian soybean crop was GM, as well as 45 per cent of the Canadian crop of rapeseed. These countries only began GM commercial plantings in 1996. The result is that GM foods have now "infiltrated the global food supply", Vital Signs says. "In the United States, where transgenic corn and soybeans show up as high fructose corn syrup or soybean oil in processed foods, an estimated 70 per cent of such foods already contain some genetically modified ingredients - though it is not labelled as such.

"Transgenic foods are likely on the shelves in many nations that do not even grow modified crops, as the United States is the source of roughly half of global corn and soybean exports as well as a large share of processed food exports."

Most of the crops involved have been genetically engineered to be specially tolerant of very powerful weedkillers such as Monsanto's Roundup. It was the destructive power of these herbicides that caused English Nature, the Government wildlife advisers, to seek a moratorium on commercial GM plantings in the UK. The fear is that they will destroy all wildlife in GM fields as well as the weeds.

The Worldwatch Institute is an independent US think-tank that specialises in annual assessments of the global environmental picture. It sources its GM crops figures to the Global Review of Commercialized Transgenic Crops, published last year by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, based in Ithaca, New York state.

20 Aug 99 - GMO - M&S move on GM food

By Charles Clover

Telegraph ... Friday 20 August 1999

Marks & Spencer said yesterday that it hopes to start a trend by becoming the first high street retailer to remove genetically-modified ingredients from animal feed .

M&S, already the only chain whose food range is made without GM ingredients , says it is responding to customer demand for a choice of meat, milk, eggs and poultry reared on a non-GM diet. Friends of the Earth said that the move was likely to have a bigger impact on GM producers than the removal of GM ingredients from human food, since most of the GM crops on sale at present in Europe are for animal consumption.

The cost of M&S's products labelled as being raised on GM-free food, however, will increase by 10 to 15 per cent because of the added cost of sourcing GM-free food supplies. Sue Sadler of M&S said: "Hopefully we will start something and the price will come down."

18 Aug 99 - GMO - Kennedy pushes for tougher GM trial controls

Lucy Ward, Political correspondent

Guardian ... Wednesday 18 August 1999

The Liberal Democrats yesterday called for tougher controls on genetically modified trial crops to prevent cross-pollination.

Charles Kennedy, the Lib Dem leader, made clear he intends to maintain distance between his party and the government over genetic modification by demanding a more cautious approach to testing.

Publishing a paper to be debated at his party's annual conference in Harrogate next month, Mr Kennedy reaffirmed its commitment to a five-year moratorium on grow ing GM crops for commercial use. He warned of growing public fears over the trials, and called for more information to allow consumers to make informed judgments about GM foods. "The government must realise that public concern on this issue is enormous. By ignoring these concerns they risk alienating a large section of society and causing long-term environmental damage."

However, he stopped short of condoning the recent Greenpeace action in destroying GM trial crops, instead arguing that ministers had failed to ensure controls on crop trials were adequate to prevent damage to the environment or neighbouring farms.

The paper recommends extending the segregation zones around GM crops to lessen the risk of cross-pollination.

It also urges labelling requirements on GM products be strengthened, and a legal liability without time limit be imposed on producers in respect of any adverse health or environmental effects.

Cabinet "enforcer" Jack Cunningham responded to Mr Kennedy by saying that Britain's regulations and tests were the most rigorous in the world, while Friends of the Earth described the Liberal Democrat stand as encouraging.

• Jersey, home of Britain's most popular new potato, has abandoned a 600,000 GM programme because its farmers fear it will undermine sales of the island's most important agricultural export, writes John Vidal.

The decision to suspend GM research being done in England to engineer Jersey Royals to resist the eelworm has been made by the island's agricultural committee after discussions with some of the biggest potato farmers. Jersey grows nearly 45,000 tons of Royals a year, most of which are sold to mainland Britain.

In a separate development, Marks and Spencer yesterday announced that it had begun to remove GM ingredients from animal feeds to ensure that its chicken, meat and eggs were fed on a GM-free diet. Other supermarket chains are expected to follow.

The Jersey decision is significant because it is the first by a semi-autonomous region of the United Kingdom effectively to outlaw GM not for scientific reasons, but to maintain an image of high quality produce .

The Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament are also under pressure to declare GM-free zones .

18 Aug 99 - GMO - Kennedy Backs Tight Controls On Gm Food

Staff Reporter

Independent ... Wednesday 18 August 1999

Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat leader, sought to reassert his party's green credentials yesterday with calls for much tighter controls on genetically modified crops and foods.

Mr Kennedy urged the Government to respond to "enormous" public concern about the technology and impose a five-year moratorium on the growing of GM crops for commercial release.

Unveiling his party's new policy paper on the controversial science, he warned that current field-scale trials posed a risk to nearby farms through cross-pollination .

To protect organic and other non-GM crops in neighbouring fields, the trials should be subject to much bigger isolation distances and be monitored by independent assessors rather than the biotech companies running the experiments, Mr Kennedy said. Biotech firms and regulatory bodies should also be made legally liable for any damage to people or the environment caused by the crops.

Firms such as Monsanto and AgrEvo, the two leading GM companies, would have to pay full compensation , possibly costing millions of pounds, if found guilty of negligence, the Liberal Democrat policy indicates.

Mr Kennedy, who visited one of the GM trial sites yesterday, said that it was time the Government listened to the public and ordered a thorough overhaul of the regulations governing trials.

"The Government must realise that public concern on this issue is enormous. By ignoring these concerns they risk alienating a large section of society and causing long-term environmental damage," he said.

Asked if he supported the recent Greenpeace action in destroying GM trial crops, he said: "We as Liberal Democrats always support the right to express civil disobedience in a peaceful way. What we don't recognise is the right to go into other people's property and to begin to destroy it."

Jack Cunningham, the Cabinet's "enforcer", immediately hit back at Mr Kennedy, claiming the issues raised were already being dealt with. "The UK regulations and tests are the most rigorous in the world," he said.

"The UK is the only country in the world investigating the environmental impact of growing GM crops at this level of detail and thoroughness."

18 Aug 99 - GMO - Kennedy attacks GM guidelines

By Nick Nuttall, Environment Correspondent

Times ... Wednesday 18 August 1999

Charles Kennedy attacked the Government on genetically modifed crops and foods yesterday, accusing it of championing multinationals at the expense of consumers and environment.

The new Liberal Democrat leader, announcing a policy document, said that guidelines for testing GM crops were inadequate . Wider buffer zones between them and conventional and organic crops were crucial to reduce the risk of cross-pollination.

Mr Kennedy said that environmental assessments should be made by independent scientists rather than the companies concerned. People living, working and farming near proposed test sites should be consulted first. He renewed his party's call for a five-year moratorium on commercial GM crops to let scientists publish their findings.

Jack Cunningham, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said afterwards that British GM regulations were the most rigorous in the world and research was carried out by independent consultants.

Margot Wallstrom, the EU's new Environment Commissioner, promised to examine environmental and health implications of GM produce.

18 Aug 99 - GMO - Festive turkeys to be GM-free

By Nick Nuttall, Environment Correspondent

Times ... Wednesday 18 August 1999

People dreaming of a GM-free Christmas have had their prayers answered by St Michael. Yesterday Marks & Spencer said that it would be supplying festive turkeys fattened on feed guaranteed not to have been modified.

A consignment of unmodified soya from Brazil is heading for the company's main turkey farmer in Northern Ireland.

The plans for produce from animals fed on a GM-free diet are the first by a British supermarket chain.

Tom Clayton, the company's head of food technology, said that the supermarket would be supplying a range of chicken, eggs, pork and turkey meat.

Mike Carter, a director of the Arable Research Centres near Cirencester, Gloucestershire, said: "I honestly believe this is no more than a PR exercise. There is, in my view, no evidence that feeding animals with GM food affects the performance of the animal or poses any risk to the animals or consumers."

A spokesman in the GM public affairs unit in the Cabinet Office said yesterday: "GM feeds are as safe as conventional feeds. This is a commercial decision."

Dr Clayton said: "It is not being done on health grounds. We support biotechnology and see it as having an important future role. It is simply in response to Marks & Spencer customers' concerns about the rapid pace at which GM is being introduced into the food chain."

Adrian Bebb, of Friends of the Earth, said: "This move is a further blow to the Government, which is continuing to promote GM crops despite the obvious fact that hardly anyone in the country wants them."

The supermarket chain Iceland has lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Agency over Sainsbury's campaign claiming it is the first major supermarket chain to make own-label products without GM ingredients. Iceland said that it pioneered the initiative in May 1998 after research showed that consumers were against GM food.

17 Aug 99 - GMO - This is a search for the truth, says farmer

By Caroline Davies

Telegraph ... Tuesday 17 August 1999

Bob Fiddamen, who was named yesterday as one of the four farmers taking part in trials for genetically modified crops, said he volunteered because he wanted to find out if there were dangers in the new technology.

He has offered 10 hectares of his land at Hemel Hempstead, Herts, to grow GM oilseed rape which will be compared to a crop grown using conventional agricultural methods. The modified crop is supposed to be tolerant to a new type of herbicide, allowing it to be used for weed control on the field.

Mr Fiddamen, who is married with grown-up children, said: "Obviously I am concerned about becoming a target, and it is something I was aware of when I agreed to offer a site. But I think it is more critical that those raising the comments and questions should have the information, and the only way to do that is to have a trial.

"I accept a number of eco-terrorists are looking just as a generality, and not at the specific argument or discussion. I am disappointed that they are unable to look at this with a more relevant viewpoint."

He said numerous detailed tests had been drawn up for the GM crop he was using, which had been selected by scientists who decided it was safe to release into the environment.

Mr Fiddamen, 54, added: "The question that English Nature raised was whether it would harm the bio-diversity of the environment more than conventional agriculture currently does. Some commentators have indicated they thought it might."

He said the Government had pointed out that the programme would also put conventional agriculture on a bio-diversity trial by virtue of the non-GM crop being grown for comparison.

He said: "Here we have evidence from groups such as the Royal Society for Protection of Birds, and so on, saying that it is conventional and modern agriculture that has decimated the bird population. But there is no evidence to show what, or why, and whether anything can done to alter the situation."

17 Aug 99 - GMO - Four new GM test sites revealed

James Meikle

Guardian ... Tuesday 17 August 1999

Companies protest but government says public has right to know . The government yesterday published the location of four new farm trials for genetically modified crops, despite the objections of the biotechnology industry which said its investment should be protected from eco-activists.

Environmentalists immediately warned it was "quite likely" that the sites would be attacked by activists.

The disclosure of the exact locations, including Ordnance Survey grid references, infuriated the industry, which said the information was an invitation to protesters to destroy the crops.

Downing Street said people were entitled to know where the trial sites were, and police would be on hand "to deal with any difficulty".

The new 25-acre farm sites, which will test winter-growing oilseed rape, are at Glentham and Market Rasen in Lincolnshire; Bingham, Nottinghamshire; and Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. One of the sites, Home Farm at Glentham, is already testing genetically modified maize and has been targeted by protesters.

Andrew Wood of the protest group Genetic Snowball said: "It is quite likely there will be some sort of direct action against the crops at some point. The public has made it clear they don't want GM crops and there is no need for these tests."

Despite increased activity by protesters, officials also confirmed plans for another 75 farm trials next year as part of a programme to monitor the impact of GM crops on the environment and wildlife. Anti-GM campaigners accused the government of allowing GM companies to set the pace on the trials.

"AgraEvo has applied for 12,500 acres of sites next year. That doesn't sound like research, it sounds like commercialism," said a Friends of the Earth spokesman, Pete Riley.

But an industry leader gave the first hint yesterday that some companies might soon consider pulling out of experiments in Britain to concentrate on countries such as Germany and the United States. Roger Turner, chairman of the industry body Scimac, said: "They won't withdraw instantly, but each time they make investment decisions Britain is going to go lower down their priorities. It is very sad. All we are doing is helping our competitors."

Companies had asked the government "to be less precise" in identifying sites, he said. Arrests and charges might deter "reasonably-minded people but won't stop the eco-loonies."

He said police were short of money and manpower, while the companies were finding the hiring of security guards "a horrendous business in terms of cost, without any guarantee it is going to be successful."

As well as the new sites, there are similar trials for winter-growing oilseed rape at Watlington, Oxfordshire; Reading, Berkshire; Harpenden, Hertfordshire, and Boothby Graffoe, Lincolnshire. Consent for other tests has been given at more than 140 other locations , all listed on a government website, although crops are not being grown at all of them.

Number 10 said yesterday that its policy of revealing locations was being "kept under review". GM trials had to go ahead, it said. "We can only make a judgment and we can only have a proper debate on this if the full facts are known."

Security would be down to the chief constables of individual police forces, "commensurate with what is affordable and reasonable". The government has spent 3m on scientific assessment of trials but no estimate has yet been made of policing costs.

Lincolnshire police said yesterday that they would not step up surveillance at the two sites in West Lincolnshire selected for trials. A spokesman said that the right of people to peaceful protest would be respected, but criminal activity would not be tolerated.

"Lincolnshire police will not, however, provide on-site security for any landowner or company engaged in genetic crop development. That is their responsibility."

Charles Kennedy, the new Liberal Democrat leader, will use a visit to a GM site later this week to unveil a policy paper on genetic modification.

17 Aug 99 - GMO - Farmer braced for protesters' raids

Linus Gregoriadis

Guardian ... Tuesday 17 August 1999

As he stood in his rain-drenched field in Hertfordshire yesterday, Bob Fiddaman seemed like any other farmer going about his daily business.

But Mr Fiddaman is braced for the possibility that he and 25 of his 500 acres could be the target of environmental protesters after it was disclosed that Wood Farm, at Piccotts End, near Hemel Hempstead, is one of four new test sites for genetically modified crops. It will be planted with GM oilseed rape in the next few weeks.

Mr Fiddaman, a member of the National Farmers Union committee on bio-technology, said he was prepared for the worst.

"Unless you can afford to put up an 8ft fence it is very difficult to prevent people from entering a field," he said. "Even if you did that, they would probably climb over."

Mr Fiddaman is appealing to environmentalists to listen to his arguments.

"I believe firmly that we need to get the information one way or the other as to whether these crops can cause environmental harm. I hope they will realise that unless you do these field trials there is no way of answering questions about the effects on bio-diversity."

Mr Fiddaman, who will be paid only for the loss of conventional crops he would have planted, said he had informed neighbouring farmers but had not met with any complaints. He said other farmers shared his enthusiasm for new techniques to make them more competitive.

Frank Lloyd, a telecommunications worker living less than 100 yards from the site, said he was in favour of the trials despite not being told in advance.

But Dougal Ronald, a local coordinator for Friends of the Earth, said: "We are concerned about the environmental hazards that go with these sites.

"There is no way to stop pollen from the crop being blown by the wind or being taken by insects."

Mr Ronald, who keeps bees at his home about four miles from the farm, added: "People like myself who make honey want to know that it isn't GM honey."

17 Aug 99 - GMO - Seeds of dissent

John Vidal

Guardian ... Tuesday 17 August 1999

They are teachers, nurses, scientists, policy geeks and professional protesters. And already they have destroyed 70 of Britain's 200-odd GM crops . As the government adds four new targets to their list, John Vidal reports on why usually law-abiding people are taking things into their own hands Captain Chromosome is a picaresque guy who guards his anonymity. A man of high principle and outrageous acts, he is remembered in some circles as the man who led the "Super Heroes Against Genetix" in the first British uprising against GM crops.

The first crop pullers were Californians who destroyed a strawberry patch in 1987, but this was April 1997, Oxford. The captain and others had identified a GM potato field being tested by a research institute that had forgotten to tell people what they were growing. They walked in to the field at two in the morning and started digging. Soon, reflecting the Luddic element that accompanies most environmental protest, they were playing a bizarre game of spud cricket.

Cut to Watlington, near Oxford, a few weeks ago. A rally of about 400 people from all over the country, semi-organised at short notice by a non-membership group is taking place close to a government GM trial site. The relaxed crowd is addressed by Alan Simpson MP, Guardian columnist George Monbiot, and a noted food writer. Not a word is mentioned about destroying the crop. Few people have any notion of what might happen.

After speeches and a picnic, with people about to leave, the rally breaks into two groups walking round the field along footpaths and minor roads. An eye witness takes up the story: "They had only got a short distance when individually and spontaneously they all headed straight to the test site and started trampling down the crop. It was extraordinary. There was no signal or word given."

They were followed into the field by the police, whose big feet are believed to have damaged as much of the crop as the protesters as they ran around after the ducking and diving bodies. As ever, there were elements of farce and protests about police over-reaction.

Both incidents confused the authorities. Who were these people? Why were they not on Thames Valley's bulging files of environmental activists, files that include almost 1,000 arrested at road, animal and other protests in the region in the past few years. Was Watlington really spontaneous or carefully planned by a Mr (or Mrs) Big? Was there, as the Sunday Times routinely suggests after any British protest, an "evil genius" behind it?

Questions like these were being asked once more yesterday as the government announced the locations of four new genetically modified crop trials, effectively laying down a fresh challenge to the crop pullers.

Until late last year fewer than 80 people in the United Kingdom had anything to do with crop pulling. Leaving aside the thousands involved in burning crops in Brazil, India, Australia, Germany, France and the US in the past 18 months, at least 700 people in Britain are thought to have participated. Many more are reportedly keen to get involved, even though it is now a criminal act with the penalty of prison.

They are now causing problems for the government, companies and scientists. The likelihood is that many more tests will be destroyed, though maybe not in the immediate future because most of the remaining 1999 trials have been harvested. At the latest count more than 70 fields or GM trial sites (out of about 150-200, but no one knows exactly how many) have been wholly or partly destroyed - with almost 50 in the past 12 weeks. The government is now considering zoning off a great area of Britain to test them, or to test in secret. The companies and research institutes have employed guards, applied to the courts for injunctions and are in frequent talks with the cabinet office.

The authorities are likely to be wrong-footed again. To understand why, you need to look at how environmental protest is changing in Britain and elsewhere. Established organisations such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and a host of smaller groups are still digging away, campaigning, doing detective work, and organising legal demonstrations and rallies, but the direct action activists today are working much more as individuals - if only because draconian rules governing assembly and trespass have been introduced. Protest has become increasingly decentralised, ad hoc, quick-witted, global and unpredictable. And it is undergoing yet another transition both in targets and tactics.

Instead of the 80s-style concerns with old liberal issues such as the arms race, nuclear power, pollution, animal welfare or countryside access, or those of the early 90s such as roads, supermarkets, toxic waste - all of which are very much on the agenda - the new activists are moving towards global concerns such as world trade, developing world debt, global bodies, corporate affairs, even "progress" - science and capitalism itself.

Were this the Philippines or Romania, commentators might argue that we were witnessing the development of a radical new social democracy movement, not so much interested in votes and party politics as broad influence, participation in decision-making and global direction. The targets are now huge and myriad - some would argue impossible - but the politics and influences are now global and are as much informed by the developing world as Europe or America.

The ecological-inspired critique of democracy is now exploding and the crop pullers should be seen as part of an international movement that, thanks to email and the web, watchdog groups and increasing networking, is throwing up new issues, philosophies, ethics, and legal arguments. The new breed of activists include jurists, anoraks, policy geeks, technologists, scientists, futurists, and political analysts.

It may not be a movement in the traditional political or social sense, but this opposition to the status quo is significantly widening its appeal on both intuitive and intellectual levels . Protest, whether over dams in India, GM in Europe, roads or corporations, is now an essential part of the new arguments and many people see direct action as the only option.

This leaves governments and police spinning, not knowing where or when the next protest will take place, what it will be about, who organise it, what its tactics will be or who will be involved. The authorities have long wanted to categorise direct action. They want leaders, members, and the people they believe are financing it. Embarrassed by not being able to stop it, Special Branch and others are now leaking names to the media on the basis of little intelligence. Most recently, they have tried to link GM with road protests and with the Stop the City J18 "riots" in London.

But GM, with its big issues about political influence, food safety, corporate power, speed of change, accountability, effects on the poor, ethics, future direction and scientific responsibility is the one issue of the past decade able to engage so many people on so many levels. The crop pullers in the end, reflect only the diversity of opposition the technology has met.

17 Aug 99 - GMO - Ministers reveal GM sites on Internet

By Nigel Hawkes, Science Editor

Times ... Tuesday 17 August 1999

The Government yesterday identified the location of four trial sites where genetically modified crops are to be grown.

(Editor's note: these are almost certainly "honeypot" sites to attract protestors, the real test sites will be secret)

Ministers had said previously that less information might be provided in order to prevent sabotage, but, for the moment, they have hung back. Yesterday they warned environmental activists against using criminal behaviour to halt further trials.

The decision was presented as a "second chance" for environmentalists to allow the trials to proceed. By refusing to opt for secrecy, the Government is also seeking to hold the moral high ground. But the policy runs a risk of fresh sabotage or a stand-off between police and protesters at the four sites.

Grid references for the sites, at Market Rasen and Glentham, in Lincolnshire, Bingham, in Nottinghamshire, and Hemel Hempstead, in Hertfordshire, were posted yesterday afternoon on the Internet site of the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions.

The applicant at all four sites is AgrEvo UK, which plans to grow modified oilseed rape so that it is resistant to the herbicide glufosinate.

Environmentalists called the trials a cover for creeping commercialisation of GM technology. By next year, 75 test sites are scheduled to be in operation.

A spokeswoman for the GM Unit in the Cabinet Office said: "The Government is committed to openness and transparency about these trials."

But Roger Turner, head of the British Plant Breeders' Association, said that publication of the sites could trigger more sabotage. "I'm all in favour of openness and transparency, but obviously there are going to be limits if people abuse that position," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"I think the difficulty is that the environmentalists have lost the argument, and they are determined not to let the trials go forward to show that, in fact, there are environmental benefits from these crops."

The industry has argued that the trial sites should not be shrouded in secrecy, but that general, rather than exact locations, should be given.

Friends of the Earth said that the trials "will produce little or no scientific evidence and are an environmental hazard. The Government's policy is to plant field after field with GM crops and see if anything goes wrong. This isn't science - this is creeping commercialisation." Greenpeace said that the Government's determination "to ride over public opinion and to allow the contamination of the environment and organic crops is an outrage".

Downing Street said that security at the trial sites was a matter for local police forces.

A GM sugar beet crop in the Irish Republic has been destroyed by saboteurs. The raid, the second of its kind in Ireland in less than a month, was at a site run by Monsanto near Midleton, Co Cork.

17 Aug 99 - GMO - I'm angry about being pinpointed. It is impossible to protect a field

Tim Reid meets a farmer who believes that tests are essential

Times ... Tuesday 17 August 1999

Bob Fiddaman volunteered part of his farm to test GM herbicide-tolerant rape last month. He is delighted to have been chosen, but disappointed that the Government has published a grid reference that will pinpoint the 25-acre field trial.

"Why can't we do what France and Germany do? They just publish the district the trial is in," he said. "It is very disappointing that the Government did not find it reasonable to describe the area it is in, rather than a reference to pinpoint exactly the site."

Mr Fiddaman, 54, a member of the National Farmers' Union biotechnology working group, said that he is being paid no more than 250 for every two and a half acres by AgrEvo UK, the company conducting the one-year trial. That roughly represents the equivalent profit he would have received for 25 acres of conventional oilseed rape.

At his farm two miles north of Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, he rates the chances of not being attacked by protesters as 50-50 "at best" and is angry that they are stopping the public from finding out how safe GM crops are. "I won't be taking any extra security measures," he said.

The site will be bordered by a 6ft hedge. The crop will be planted from now until the middle of next month and will be visible by the end of that month. "How can you protect a field trial? If they want to carry out criminal damage, it's impossible to protect it. The attacks last month in Norfolk proved that. I have not been in touch with the police, or any of the other farmers doing what I am doing. If there is an attack, I will inform the police and let them deal with it.

"But I'm not sanguine. It makes me angry. How do you get information to answer the questions everyone is asking? I am still hoping that we will come to some sort of compromise, but maybe I am naive. I am not unaware of the potential problem I have laid myself open to. But equally, I do not intend to be intimidated."

Mr Fiddaman, who has been farming in the area since 1971, believes that GM crops offer greater benefits, both commercially and environmentally, than the present status quo and wants to be part of the process that proves it.

Peter Stanbridge, whose Eastbrook Hay Farm backs directly on to the field trial site, said: "He asked me and I said it was all right. He knows a lot about it. Everything man does is against something. What comes out of cars? Do we ban cars?" Half a mile away, in the village of Piccotts End, the feeling was very much against the protesters. Mike Redman, who runs a printing shop, said: "If it is a trial, it's a trial. Unless you are allowed to do it, you don't get the results. I completely disagree with the people who destroy these crops. And I think it is wrong of the Government to publish the grid references."

In the Boar's Head, one local drinker said: "You'll find the consensus around here is that someone has got to find out about these crops. It is just a few idiots who take the law into their own hands that destroy them. Most people here are happy for him to get on with it."

But the owner of another farm, who did not want to be named, said: "This is organic land, and you know what organic farmers think. You can't help the pollen spreading. But I don't want to cause trouble. Bob is a neighbour and friend."

17 Aug 99 - GMO - Government braced for more protests

Staff Reporter

Telegraph ... Tuesday 17 August 1999

The Government was braced last night for more protests against genetically modified crops after it named four sites where further testing will take place.

They are Home Farm, at Screveton, near Bingham, Notts; Home Farm, at Spital in the Street, Glentham, Lincs; Wood Farm, Dodds Lane, Piccotts End, Hemel Hempstead, Herts; and the Old Rectory, Croxby, Market Rasen, Lincs.

Field-scale trials of GM oilseed rape , covering 25 acres per farm, will begin this autumn. About 80 new Government-sponsored test sites are expected to be in operation by next year.

Home Farm in Glentham has already been damaged in protests against an existing trial. Police arrested 46 people there this month for allegedly destroying 2,000 worth of maize.

Andrew Wood, of the anti-GM campaign group Genetix Snowball, said: "I think it is quite likely that there will be some sort of direct action against the crops. The public has made it quite clear that they do not want GM crops and there is no need for these tests."

Other campaigners accused the Government of ignoring voters' concerns. Greenpeace said that people living near the sites had not been asked for their consent.

The group's spokesman, Jim Thomas, said: "The Government's determination to ride over public opinion and to allow the contamination of the environment and organic crops is an outrage."

Liana Stupples, of Friends of the Earth, described the trials as "a farce". They would produce "little or no scientific evidence" and endanger the environment. She said: "The Government's policy is to plant field after field with GM crops and see if anything goes wrong."

Alan Simpson, the Labour MP whose Nottingham South constituency includes the Bingham site, described the scientific criteria for the trials as "at best haphazard and at worst incompetent".

Matthew Taylor, the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, said that ministers should pay more attention to the public and less to "the vested interests of American big business ".

Downing Street said that people were entitled to know where the trials were being held, but added that policy on the publication of locations was kept under review. The tests were necessary to gather sufficient evidence about GM crops, it said.

Roger Turner, head of the British Plant Breeders' Association, said that providing such detailed information could lead to further sabotage. He told Radio 4's Today programme: "I think the difficulty is that the environmentalists have lost the argument and they are determined not to let the trials go forward to show that, in fact, there are environmental benefits from these crops."

16 Aug 99 - GMO - Sabotage Warning As GM Test Sites Disclosed

From the Press Association

Guardian ... Monday 16 August 1999

The precise locations of four large-scale tests of genetically-modified crops have been disclosed by the Government - as environmentalists warn they are "quite likely" to be attacked by activists.

The Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions' Internet site gave the names and addresses of the four farms concerned - at Bingham, east of Nottingham, Piccots End, near Hemel Hempstead, Herts and Market Rasen and Glentham, both north of Lincoln.

"Field scale" trials of GM oilseed rape, 10 hectares (25 acres) per farm, will begin this autumn. A total of some 80 test sites are set to be in operation by next year.

One of the farms - Home Farm at Spital in the Street, Glentham - has already faced protests over existing GM crop tests. Earlier this month, police arrested 46 people for allegedly destroying 2,000-worth of maize.

Protesters insist there is a groundswell of support against the tests, both near the farms concerned and across the nation as a whole.

Andrew Wood of Genetic Snowball said: "I think it is quite likely there will be some sort of direct action against the crops at some point. The public has made it quite clear they don't want GM crops and there is no need for these tests."

Greenpeace campaigner Jim Thomas said the large-scale new trials meant the Government was using "sham science" to force GM commercialisation on the country.

Last month, Greenpeace claimed to have undermined the whole GM test process after its supporters allegedly destroyed a field of modified maize at Lyng, Norfolk.

Mr Thomas refused to say whether Greenpeace planned further direct action but said there was "considerable anger" among local people in the areas selected.

Greenpeace claims the four sites have been announced without the consent of local people whose crops, bees and gardens may be contaminated by GM pollution . It recently commissioned a MORI poll in which 63% of those questioned said they would oppose a GM farm-scale trial being planted near them.

15 Aug 99 - GMO - 'Impartial' GM trials chief in favour of modified crops

Staff Reporter

Independent ... Sunday 15 August 1999

The man responsible for overseeing the Government's trials of GM crops - chosen by ministers for his impartial scientific advice - believes it is in "society's long-term interest" to grow genetically engineered crops.

Professor Christopher Pollock , who is influential in deciding whether GM crops will be licensed to be grown commercially in the UK, is in favour of genetic engineering because "the benefits outweigh the risks". He believes that "it is in society's long-term interest to accept the benefit of genetic manipulation".

Professor Pollock's comments in an interview with a farming journal are likely to provoke further protest from environmentalists and cast doubt on the objectivity of the assessment of the GM trials .

This week a new series of GM crop trials will be announced by the Government. Fields of oilseed rape will be planted in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, and near Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire. Earlier trials sparked anger and some protest action from environmental and consumer groups who fear the GM pollen could pose a threat to nearby farms , particularly those growing organic crops.

Professor Pollock, who was vetted by government officials before being offered the post , criticised the views of anti-GM campaigners saying: "Consider how much damage has been done by introducing foreign species such as rhododendrons."

The chairman of the Government's steering group also said in the interview with The Farmer that Britain needed to "remain competitive with countries like the US and Canada [which] are already growing genetically modified crops on a big scale" .

The professor heads the steering group responsible for overseeing the progress of the controversial GM trials and for interpreting whether the technology could damage Britain's wildlife and environment. The trial results will determine whether the Government allows biotechnology companies such as Monsanto to grow their crops in Britain .

Ministers wanted experts on the influential steering group to be unbiased to reassure the public that the trials are not a "whitewash" for agro-chemical companies. Earlier this year members of another advisory panel were replaced after it was revealed that some members had links with such companies.

"Appointing someone who is clearly committed intellectually to genetic engineering food, to such an influential position severely undermines the credibility of these farm-scale trials and the impartiality of advice the Government will receive," said Pete Riley, of environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth.

Professor Pollock, Research Director at the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Re- search in Aberystwyth, said that he favoured "an open dialogue between consumers and food producers" about genetic engineering and that "there should be an independent body of scientists set up to control the development of GM crops in Europe." He added: "Scientists can never really say that anything is 100 per cent safe but I find it difficult to see problems with making use of, for example, a plant gene to improve the quality of grass for consumption by cows or sheep. It is using natural DNA in a natural system," he said.

15 Aug 99 - GMO - GM police to guard crop trials

by Marie Woolf and Geoffrey Lean

Independent ... Sunday 15 August 1999

Ministers are secretly planning specialist round-the-clock police squads to guard genetically modified crop trials from environmental protesters.

The Government fears that existing security arrangements are not sufficient to protect a new phase of GM trials to be announced this week. It fears environmentalists could destroy the crops .

The move follows pleas for government help from biotechnology companies and farmers running the trials. They say they are unable to protect the crops from protesters' organised raids.

Local police forces have said they do not have the manpower or money to stop protesters attacking the crops.

The special GM forces will be trained in restraint techniques and in ways of protecting the fields from "eco-warriors". There will be patrols on each site and the Government has also considered installing CCTV cameras around the fields. The plans have been discussed in secret meetings in recent weeks.

Next year the Government plans to step up the tests with 75 trials of about 25 acres each , to assess the effects of the crops on wildlife and the environment. Ministers are understood to be furious about the direct-action campaign, which is jeopardising their assessment of whether to grow GM crops commercially in Britain.

Earlier this summer police arrested Lord Melchett, the Labour peer who heads Greenpeace in the UK, following a raid on a GM crop site. Among the protesters arrested with him was a former senior police officer who until recently was responsible for policing at the House of Commons.

At the same time police in London are planning a long-term war of attrition against environmental groups to weaken their power to mount direct-action campaigns.

Radical environmentalist groups such as Reclaim the Streets and Earth First! are the main targets, but, police sources suggest, well-established organisations such as Greenpeace could also be involved.

The offensive is signalled in a report by the Commissioner of the City of London Police, Perry Nove, into the Carnival Against Global Capitalism held in the Square Mile on 18 June. Parts of the demonstration degenerated into violence and 28 members of the public and 14 police were injured. More than 40 people were arrested.

The report, which accepts that some of the police's handling of the riot was "highly unsatisfactory", concludes that "the demonstration signals a new era of violent protest, which has implications for the whole country and for policing at a national level". It adds: "The aim is to achieve long-term attrition of the groups involved."

Reclaim the Streets was the "best known and largest group" in the demonstrations and Earth First! is also mentioned. A spokesman for the City of London Police said that the campaign aimed to "weaken groups involved in criminality", and that there was no intention of "disrupting or breaking up people engaged in lawful protest".

Tony Juniper, policy and campaigns director for Friends of the Earth, said: "It is pretty clear that the police are running a political agenda to disrupt groups that are running perfectly reasonable campaigns."

George Monbiot, founder of The Land is Ours, who has led non-violent protests and is a leading authority on genetically engineered crops, said: "I am staggered. I have come across many cases of surveillance and intrusive policing, but never such a bold statement that the police should take part in the political process . It is a very worrying development."

The Cabinet Office said that its security arrangements for the GM crops were confidential but ruled out bringing in the Army to protect the crops. "We do not discuss discussions we have held or security arrangements for the trial sites," a spokesman said.

Ministers have ruled out creating one giant isolated GM trial site for fear of attracting a permanent Greenham Common-style protest.