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Ready to remove a blight on our landscape?

i | 16.04.2007 09:01 | Bio-technology | Ecology | Globalisation | Technology | Cambridge


This month a controversial experimental genetically modified potato crop is due to be planted in the UK by the German chemical giant BASF (offshoot of the infamous AG Farben). DEFRA initially gave approval in December for BASF to undertake trials at two sites, one in Cambridgeshire (at the National Institute of Agriculture and Botany) and the other initially in Derbyshire - until the farmer pulled out.

The trials are the first GM crops to enter British soil in nearly 3 years, after public opposition forced a u-turn in government and corporate plans for patented crops. Although presented as an R&D trial into the effectiveness of an anti blight gene, they are widely considered to be trial of public opinion.

On 14th April in Cambridge a protest walk took place [photos 1, 2]. This was followed on the 21st by a rally in Hull. This event ended with the proposed trial being effectively sabotaged even before it had began when over a hundred people entered the site and planted several varieties of seed potatoes in the field making it impossible for a scientifically valid trial to take place there.

Cambridge 1 | 2 | 3 | grid reference
Hull 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | pics

Background GM - Back on the agenda? | Sabotage promised | New GM crop trials | London info night (Tues 17th)

Campaign sites | | Cambridge GM concern |

Setting off to work
Setting off to work



audio from

30.04.2007 08:10

Here is some audio from the event, about 17 minutes I think.

It's intended for people making radio segments to take chunks from.



Hide the following 6 comments

IG Farben

18.04.2007 12:32

The nice people who supplied zyklon b to the nazi regime - successor now wants to be trusted to supply your food.


wrong place - right time

26.04.2007 12:29

no mention of pulling up a field of fairly harmless beans instead of GM potatoes?

silly days.... :)



29.04.2007 14:39

There is no mention of pulling up anything because there was no crop pulling done.

The aim was to demonstrate that there was still significant numbers of people up for taking direct action or even breaking the law in order to stop the planting of GM crops in this country.

The idea was to invalidate any trial on the field before the GM crop was planted by planting non GM varieties of potatoes in the field.

As it happens, the field targeted was the wrong field but it doesn't really change much. The field chosen was the only field not planted with crops when the area was recc'ied and the 'correct' field is not even prepared for planting yet - hence the mistake.

However, the field bean crop will not be effected by the potatoes planted there so no harm done - and BASF should now be under no illusion that the they will face no opposition to their plans.

no pulling


30.04.2007 16:21

Not only did they get completely the wrong field and showed how in touch with nature they are by not being able to tell the difference between beans and potatoes, they trashed it AND FLY TIPPED.

That's right...environmental protestors, BY THEIR OWN ADMISSION, dumped their placards, posters, banners and costumes in the field they trashed. Even worse, the representative of the group on the local news said she had no intention of going back to clear up the rubbish.


Conor Turton
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Not Muppets, Not Hypocrites

01.05.2007 19:32

In response to Conor Turton...

I was there at Hull as a participant, and I planted quite a lot of spuds.

We (speaking of myself and the people I was planting with) were aware there were some beans in the field once we started digging, however, it didn't seem many, and nor did they seem to be planted in drills. Upon discussing with the people within earshot, most just seemed to think they were leftovers from a previous crop - not an unreasonable assumption, given the seemingly small number and random distribution.

As for "dumping of placards" - it's fair to say that a few (maybe 10 maximum) were stuck in the ground around the stump of a pylon that had been removed from the field, undoubtedly to leave a message to the farmer. However, as for "fly tipping", I think we left the picnic field in pristine condition, and certainly didn't leave random rubbish behind.

Get your facts straight - which might be easier for you to manage if you'd actually been there, instead of being an armchair critic.

Furthermore, if you're going to make accusations of us not being "in touch with nature", it would help if you were doing it from a speaking-out-against-GM perspective, as well as speaking out against our tactics. As it is, you seem to be a tacit supporter of GM, which just shows how out of touch with nature YOU are!

Despite getting the wrong field, this was still a successful symbolic action, demonstrating that there are a lot of people prepared to take real action against GM crops, should the need arise. If it turns out you actually are opposed to GM, and not just to our tactics, what would you suggest instead?

And, if you're going to suggest something better, I trust you'll be there next time, to actually DO SOMETHING about it, rather than just slag it off afterwards from behind the comfort of your computer keyboard?

As it is, it seems to me you're just a supporter of GM who is too much of a coward to come out and say it. I wouldn't mind betting you stand to make some money from it somewhere along the line, because let's face it, there's not really any other reasons for favouring corporate ownership and mutation of nature, are there?

Or are you going to tell us that GM is great because it'll "feed the 3rd world" or some such crap?

Potato Planter