August 2 1999 BRITAIN
Attacks on GM crops spread to US and France
BY NICK NUTTALL, ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT
DIRECT action against genetically modified crops in Britain is inspiring
similar raids overseas, it emerged last night, as police charged 45 people
with conspiracy to damage crops in a bungled attack on a farm in
Campaigners said that activists in America and France have destroyed GM crops, giving as their reason solidarity with British protesters.
Yesterday, as police said 26 men and 19 women from all over the country had been charged with conspiracy to commit damage at a farm in Spital in the Street where government GM trials are being conducted, news came of the first attacks on US crops.
A group, basing itself on a British protest band called the Lincolnshire Loppers, has pulled up an acre of GM corn near Lodi, California. The Lodi Loppers said in a statement that the action was taken to send a message of solidarity to "organic farmers around the world who are resisting the genetic monster". It added: "By pulling their crops, the industry has been put on notice that it can no longer expect business as usual in the US nor anywhere else in the world." A second group, called the Cropatistas, uprooted another one-acre crop of GM corn in the area some time in the past seven days.
A spokesman for the Genetic Engineering Network in London said yesterday that at least two GM sites had been destroyed in France. One was of oil seed rape, the other rice.
The attack in Britain, which took place on Saturday at The Farm in Spital in the Street near the A15, is the latest in a string of direct actions against GM crops over the past week.
The protesters, who said they were not part of any organisation, had been hoping to ruin one of the Government's big field trials. But the operation backfired when the attackers mistook seven acres of conventionally grown maize for the GM test site.
About 60 protesters, dressed in white overalls, tore up the crop, causing damage estimated at £2,000 despite pleas from the landowner that it was a naturally grown maize.
Adam Duguid, the farmer, said yesterday: "It was normal maize that we would have used to feed cattle. I went to them and told them they were destroying normal maize, but they just carried on."
A police spokesman said all those charged last night would appear at Lincoln Magistrates' Court today. One of the men charged also faces an allegation of obstructing police. A 16-year-old girl has been referred to social services.