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GM Trials Could Unleash Another BSE

Protesters say a site of special scientific interest and an organic farm are in jeopardy with the latest approval for GM planting in South Warwickshire.

Villagers have been protesting for five months to try and keep the GM trials away from Alderminster, and will keep on fighting despite more planting due to take place this week.

The formation of Alderminster Against GM crops came after a petition of 200 names was collected against the sowing of oil seed rape in the spring.

Now a second site near the village is about to be used for the latest trials. Sites at Long Marston and Harbury are also due to be planted.

The new site is closed to Knaven Hill Wood, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) about half-a-mile out of the village towards Ettington.

Liz Addy, treasurer of the action group, said:

“We formed this action group at our own expense and we have sent our petition of 200 names and letters to Michael Meacher MP who is in charge of all this, but we have not had the courtesy of a reply.

“I am afraid that after five months it does feel like we are banging our heads on a brick wall, but we are not giving up.”

She said not many people really understand all the issues behind GM crops, including MPs and MEPs who represent the village. She said:

“We feel it is not acceptable to do this. A lot of people are unhappy with the idea of introducing one gene into another gene with unknown consequences.

“We are creating something that would never exist if left to nature.

“It could be a bit like BSE, we do not really know what we are releasing into the countryside, and by then it could all be too late. It is very irresponsible to say the least.

“There has been no consultation from anyone, not even our parish council. No one has asked us what we think, but there has been a referendum in Long Marston.”

There are also fears for an organic farming business in the area, with a potential risk of contamination from the GM trials.

While the Government has set a 50 metre exclusion zone around GM sites, villagers say this is not enough an the Government knows this as this figure is being revised, but the present restraints will be used for the new trials. 

Some say bees could spread the GM genes by to 4km, making a mockery of the present exclusion zones.

They continue to write to ministers in the DETR (Department of Transport, Environment and the Regions) and MPs and MEPs who will listen.

But they suspect most politicians support the trials, although there has been more concern from Liberal Democrats who are upset at the lack of consultation.

And the message from the action group for others who want to lend support is for protesters to keep writing to the DETR and keep publicising the fears of people who live near the trial sites.

Alderminster campaigners are to re-focus their campaign, which has been a gruelling effort of interviews and research. 

Their next effort is likely to be a newsletter to Alderminster and surrounding villages.


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CWN / Environment / 29 Aug 00

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