back button to home page



Chronologically listed items on this page in descending order:

Scottish Executive Moratorium

Environmental Liability – Make GMOs a Special Case

GMO’s and the Environmental Liability Directive: the case for special treatment

Finnie warned on legality of GM guidelines

Sale of illegal GM rice in Scotland sanctioned by food safety watchdog

UN Global Moratorium on GM "Terminator" Seed Technology


GM crop 'ruins fields for 15 years'

Mrs Beckett Urged to Support GM free Zones

GM Oilseed Rape (OSR) Farm Scale Evaluation results mark the end of the GM OSR experiment in Scotland

GM protesters win three-year court battle - Highland News (Scotland), 14/10/2004

Western Isles ready to join as Highland GM-free zone grows - The Scotsman, 19th June 2004

Council backs blanket ban on GM produce - The Scotsman - Fri 16th Apr 2004


Devinder Sharma in Scotland - Highland GM battle inspires Indians - The Scotsman, 27th Mar 2004

18th March 2004 The Scottish Parliament came within a vote of blocking GM crop cultivation across the whole of theUK

Scottish Executive's Cautious approach to GM crops in Scotland

The Farm-Scale Evaluation results for the spring-sown gm crops

The GM Nation? Public Debate Report

The Cartegna Biosafety Protocol came into force as an international agreement on the 11th September, 2003.

West Lothian Council voted to declare itself a GM Free Zone on 9th December, 2003.


The Public Debate


Scottish May Election 2003

The links below give monthly lists of press references followed by some selected excerpts and full stories from April 2003 all the way back to the beginning of the Munlochy GM Vigil campaign in August 2001:

April 2003

March 2003

February 2003

January 2003

December 2002

November 2002

October 2002

September 2002

August 2002

July 2002

June 2002

May 2002

April 2002

March 2002

February 2002

January 2002

December 2001

November 2001

October 2001

September 2001

August 2001

Scottish Executive Moratorium
Following the Scottish Parliamentary Elections in 2007 and a new Executive, Scottish government policy has further firmed up and is now:
The Executive's intention is to maintain a moratorium on the planting of GM crops in Scotland. GM crops are not grown in Scotland and we believe this respects the wishes of Scottish consumers who want local, high-quality produce. Scotland has a wonderful and varied environment, rich in biodiversity and we do not wish to jeopardise this.

Environmental Liability – Make GMOs a Special Case - Press Release. 12th February 2007
Genetically Modified Organism should be made a special case when the EU Environmental Liability Directive is implemented in Scotland say a group of NGOs [1]
The group are calling upon Scottish politicians to support their proposals to strengthen Scotland's environmental liability laws for GMOs to go well beyond the baseline laid down in the Directive.
Under the EU Directive any company or organisation responsible for causing harm can be held liable for restoring the environment or taking compensatory action if the damage cannot easily be reversed. The release of GMOs into the environment is one of many activities covered by the Directive which is due to be implemented in Scotland in 2007. The four nations of the UK will each introduce their own regulations. Scotland is conducting a public consultation on how the Directive should be implemented at present.
In a briefing [2] sent to Members of the Scottish Parliament this week, the NGOs set out their case for making GMOs a special case compared with other activities covered by the Directive:
• The nature of the risks from GMOs is very different from other activities: GMOs are living and able to multiply in the environment.
• The range species and habitats covered excludes areas where GMOs are likely to be grown.
• Scientific knowledge about GMOs and their impacts is limited and unexpected results have occurred already.
• The permit system for GMOs is not location specific and they could be released anywhere across the countryside.
• The impact of GMOs may take longer than the 30 year liability time limit specified in the Directive.
• Liability does not extend to laboratory GM animals, plants and microbes which could escape and cause harm to the environment.
The NGOs are calling for the Regulations in Wales/Scotland to:
• drop the defence that allows exemption from liability if a company hold a consent to release a GMO (the "permit defence").[3]
• drop the defence that allows exemption from liability if the scientific opinion at the time of the release of the GMO was that it was safe for the environment (the "state of knowledge defence").
• make GMO consent holders not farmers strictly liable.
• extend the liability time limit for GMOs to 75 years.
• extend the scope of the areas covered by the Regulations to cover all countryside and all water bodies
• make environmental liability insurance compulsory.
Commenting; Anthony Jackson of the Munlochy GM Vigil [4]
"As things stand the Scottish Executive has indicated that they intend to only implement the Directive to the lowest possible standards.. This would mean millions of acres of countryside and hundreds of species would not be covered for harm caused by GMOs and other environmental damage. . We believe the Scottish Parliament would be widely applauded if they extended the scope of GMO liability as we have proposed and we call upon the political parties in Scotland to commit themselves to this policy for the forthcoming Scottish elections..
Editor's notes;
1. Genewatch UK, GM Freeze, Friends of the Earth, and the Munlochy GM Vigil
3. The EU Liability Directive allows exemption from liability if the activity causing their environmental harm has been authorized by the authorities. Thus a GMO Experimental or Commercial Release Consent for a particular GMO would mean that harm caused would not caught by the Directive. This is known as the permit defence. In the consultation for England Wales and Northern Ireland, The Welsh Assembly Government has indicated that they wish to drop the permit defence for GMOs,
Munlochy GM Vigil - Anthony Jackson 01381 610 740 - 07753 865 540
GM Freeze - Pete Riley - 07903 341 065

GMO’s and the Environmental Liability Directive: the case for special treatment - February 2007 - Download here as a pdf file (340kb)

Finnie warned on legality of GM guidelines - By Rob Edwards - The Sunday Herald - 29 October 2006 -
IF Scottish ministers follow the example of Westminster on new rules for growing GM crops they will break European law. Legal experts have concluded that the regime proposed by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in London to prevent organic food from being contaminated by GM crops grown nearby is "fundamentally flawed". The Scottish environment minister, Ross Finnie, has long been expected to publish GM "co-existence" rules similar to Defra's. But although Defra's consultation finished more than a week ago, Finnie's has yet to begin.
Oddly, an announcement that Finnie's consultation had opened was posted on the Scottish Executive's website a month ago, but removed within hours. It was an "administrative error", according to the Scottish Executive. Now the campaign group, GM Freeze, has obtained a legal opinion on Defra's plans from two of the UK's leading specialists on European law, Paul Lasok and Rebecca Haynes. Defra plans were "inconsistent with community law", they concluded. Defra proposed to "minimise" GM contamination though the law required the government to "avoid" it. Defra's suggestion that no public register of GM crops was necessary ignored a European directive, the lawyers said.
GM Freeze will be writing to the Executive this week, warning ministers not to make the same mistakes as Defra. "The Executive needs to consider the legal flaws in Defra's consultation very carefully if it is to avoid making proposals that are at odds with European law," said Pete Riley, campaign director of GM Freeze. Green MSP Mark Ruskell added: "It's time for Finnie to show his hand on GM once and for all and not make the same pro-GM mistakes as Defra."
The Scottish Executive promised it would respond to GM Freeze. "We will also be issuing a consultation in due course and will consider all responses," said an Executive spokesperson.

Sale of illegal GM rice in Scotland sanctioned by food safety watchdog - By Rob Edwards, Environment Editor - The Sunday Herald, 17 September 2006
Rice that has been illegally contaminated with genetically modified (GM) organisms from the United States is being sold in Scotland because the government's food safety watchdog has failed to recommend the product's withdrawal. A number of supermarkets are following the advice of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and leaving suspect GM rice on their shelves. Others, however, have said they are withdrawing the rice due to consumer concerns. The FSA's stance has been strongly criticised by a former GM adviser to the US government's Food and Drug Administration, Doug Gurian-Sherman. "We should be taking a more cautious approach," he told the Sunday Herald. "Risks should not be taken with public health for the convenience of companies or of government. It sets a very bad precedent to make safety assessments based on data that is incomplete."
According to Gurian-Sherman, now with the Centre for Food Safety in Washington DC, there simply was not enough evidence to judge whether the contaminated rice was safe or not. "I wouldn't eat it myself," he said. The Bush administration told European governments last month that US long grain rice had been contaminated by a GM strain known as LL601. The cause is still under investigation, but the gene is thought to have leaked from field trials of GM rice in the southern states more than five years ago. Last week, the European Union reported that traces of LL601 had been found in 33 out of 162 samples tested by the European rice industry. Contaminated rice has been detected in Germany, France, Sweden, Switzerland and The Netherlands.
In the UK, however, the FSA is not expecting test results for two weeks. But the agency accepted that rice on sale in the UK is likely to be contaminated with LL601, as did the rice industry. "US long grain rice containing low levels of GM could already have been imported into the UK, including Scotland," said an FSA spokeswoman. "The presence of the GM rice is illegal at any level." But the FSA insisted that the rice was safe to eat. "Given the very low levels of GM rice, we suggested to the industry that we didn't expect them to withdraw products on food safety grounds," she added.
The FSA is, however, working with the rice industry to prevent any more contaminated rice from entering the country. "The material will undoubtedly be in the food chain, though at very low levels," said Alex Waugh of the Rice Association, which represents UK rice millers. The UK's biggest supermarket chain, Tesco, said on Friday that it had withdrawn Tesco American long grain rice in 500g and one-kilo bags as a precaution "pending further investigations". Though Sainsbury's had stopped buying American long grain rice, it was still contained in products on sale. "If any of our customers are uncomfortable eating the rice, they can take it back to their nearest Sainsbury's store where a full refund will be offered," said a spokeswoman for the company. Waitrose said only that it was "following FSA advice on this issue". The Co-op said its suppliers had confirmed that none of the supermarket's long grain rice products were "implicated". The FSA's stance has been condemned by environmental groups, who are calling for suspect stocks of US rice to be withdrawn. "It is outrageous, and quite probably illegal, that the FSA is doing nothing to protect consumers from this unauthorised GM rice," said Anthony Jackson of anti-GM campaign group, the Munlochy GM Vigil. "The FSA has known about this for nearly a month, the US authorities since January, and imports may have been arriving for the last few years. The cover-up attempt must stop now."
The Green MSP Mark Ruskell said: "I cannot understand how it can be deemed acceptable to just leave contaminated illegal products on the shelves." He voiced concerns that the Scottish Executive was about to introduce a "coexistence" regime allowing GM crops to be grown alongside conventional and organic crops. This would "let the GM genie out of the bottle," Ruskell warned.

S2M-4005 Mr Mark Ruskell: UN Global Moratorium on GM "Terminator" Seed Technology
That the Parliament notes with concern the actions of the pro-GM governments of Australia, New Zealand and Canada in seeking to undermine the current global moratorium on GM "terminator" technologies or Genetic Use and Restriction Technologies (GURTS) at the Brazil meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP8) of the UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) from 20 to 31 March 2006; further notes and condemns the announcement by Monsanto that the company has reneged on its 1999 public commitment not to commercialise patents held on "terminator" technology; considers that no scientific data yet exist that can justify field testing or commercial use of GURTS; consequently believes that the precautionary principle must continue to be applied and should be extended to include consideration of socio-economic, biodiversity, and cultural concerns; calls on the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Secretary of State for International Development to defend robustly an EU policy which demands that no open-air growing of GM "terminator" crops should be permitted until research on socio-economic, biodiversity, and cultural impacts has been published and evaluated, and therefore rejects any move at the COP8 meeting of the UN CBD towards a "case by case" assessment of GURTS.

Dear First Minister,
Last year you took the commendable decision to involve Scotland politically in the arena of international development. This year a threat is emerging that could undermine any progress that was made. At the forthcoming Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in March in Brazil, a brazen attempt will be made by a small clique of countries, backed by a few multinational corporations, and the USA, to overturn an international ban on so called "suicide seeds", and introduce Terminator technology into the world’s food supply. This would prevent farmers saving and using their own seeds, which they have developed themselves over generations and thousands of years. It has rightly provoked global condemnation and raised questions about the motives of those involved:
The rural and indigenous women’s movement of Chile described Terminator technology as "a crime against humanity", an attempt "to annihilate our seeds in order to force us under the yolk of industrial agriculture". Similarly, the Food Rights Network of Uganda have stated that, "This technology of sterile seeds will prevent us from implementing the Millennium Development Goal on hunger, and the poverty eradication plan here in Uganda".
Farm saved seed (when a proportion of the harvest is retained to be sown next year) has also been practiced in Scotland for centuries. A desire to preserve seed lines that are suited to Scottish conditions and to reduce farm costs means that it still continues today. This practice may indeed need to grow in the future, in order to protect agricultural bio- diversity in the face of an ever narrowing genetic base in seed varieties offered by the large seed producing corporations.
First Minister, across the globe nearly one and a half billion people depend on saving their own seed to survive. Their voices will not be heard at the political negotiations in Brazil. Their future is in the hands of political representatives around the world. We therefore respectfully call on you to represent the views of the people of Scotland, and to add your voice to the condemnations of this crude attempt to complete corporate control of the global food chain.
Yours sincerely,
The UK Working Group on Terminator Technology
(incudes UK Food Group, Progressio, Friends of the Earth, GM Freeze, Genewatch UK, The Gaia Foundation, Econexus and Munlochy GM Vigil)

GM crop 'ruins fields for 15 years' - By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor - The Independent o Sunday, 09 October 2005
GM crops contaminate the countryside for up to 15 years after they have been harvested, startling new government research shows. The findings cast a cloud over the prospects of growing the modified crops in Britain, suggesting that farmers who try them out for one season will find fields blighted for a decade and a half. Financed by GM companies and Margaret Beckett's Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the report effectively torpedoes the Government's strategy for introducing GM oilseed rape to this country. Ministers have stipulated that the crops should not be grown until rules are worked out to enable them to "co-exist" with conventional ones. But the research shows that this is effectively impossible.
The study, published by the Royal Society, examined five sites across England and Scotland where modified oilseed rape has been cultivated, and found significant amounts of GM plants growing even after the sites had been returned to ordinary crops. It concludes that the research reveals "a potentially serious problem associated with the temporal persistence of rape seeds in soil." The researchers found that nine years after a single modified crop, an average of two GM rape plants would grow in every square metre of an affected field. After 15 years, this came down to one plant per square metre - still enough to break the EC limits on permissible GM contamination. Last night Pete Riley, the director of GM Freeze, said; "It is becoming clearer and clearer that it is going to be impossible to grow GM crops in Britain."

Mrs Beckett Urged to Support GM free Zones - FIVE YEAR FREEZE CAMPAIGNPRESS RELEASE - Immediate Release
Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett is being urged by the Five Year Freeze to use the next EU Council of Ministers to launch proposals for new laws to allow GM zones to be set up.
At the next Council of Ministers on 24th June, EU member states will be asked to vote on EC proposals to declare the current bans on certain GMOs in Austria, Greece, France, Luxemburg and Germany illegal and call for enforcement procedures to begin.
Instead the FYF wants Mrs Beckett to put forward proposals to amend the EU GMO regulations to provide a legal framework to allow member states, regions and local areas to declare themselves GM free zones. In their letter [1] the FYF points out to DEFRA that political and popular support for GM free areas is growing right across Europe. 162 regions and 4500 local councils and areas have declared their wish to be GM free [2]. At present there is no legislation to enable member states or regions to take such a decision.
Pete Riley Director of the Five Year Freeze said: "In the last couple of years the demand for GM free status has taken off from The Highlands of Scotland to the Greek Islands because people realise that GMOs do not fit with their type of food production and their environment. European politicians need to respond to this demand by giving local areas the power to declare themselves a GM free zone. The UK Government should take the lead and start the process instead of voting with the EC as they habitually do on these occasions."
The democratic right to claim GM free status should be enshrined in European legislation, to reflect growing consumer demand.
Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341065
1. Copy available on request
2. See for details on GM zones in the EU
Carrie Stebbings, Co-ordinator - FIVE YEAR FREEZE CAMPAIGN, 94 White Lion Street, London, N1 9PF - Tel: 020 7837 0642 - Fax: 020 7837 1141 -

Munlochy GM Vigil Press Release 21st March 2005

GM Oilseed Rape (OSR) Farm Scale Evaluation results mark the end of the GM OSR experiment in Scotland
The results, may lead some to call for further research, for further clarification, but, put simply, winter and spring sown GM OSR damage the environment.
Under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 (
"........all public bodies and individual office holders have a statutory duty to further biodiversity in exercising their functions. This applies to the Scottish Executive itself, to all government agencies, and to local government" (Scotlands Biodiversity, its in your hands - page 48, section 5.3, The Scottish Executive, 2004)
Clearly no GM Oilseed Rape furthers biodiversity, and as such, the Scottish Executive, under its own rules, has no option but to prevent GM OSR being grown in Scotland. Furthermore results from the "global experiment "with GM crops show that:
there are no long term improved yields for GM crops,
there is no long term reduction in pesticide use with GM crops,
and there are no long term safety tests for GM foods.
What GM crops do bring are environmental damage, consumer rejection, patenting of life forms, and further intensification of agriculture.
Now is the time to draw a line.
Public funding for research should be re- directed to producing more palatable crops.
Government patronage should be withdrawn from the GM multinationals.
And imports of GM animal feed should be halted, and supermarkets should source all their animal feed supplies from non GM agriculture."
The GM silver bullet, has to put it mildly, lost its sheen, and now we must take this opportunity to work towards real long term solutions for Scottish, UK, and Global agriculture and food security.

Effects on weed and invertebrate abundance and diversity of herbicide management in genetically modified herbicide-tolerant winter-sown oilseed rape
by DA Bohan, CWH Boffey, DR Brooks, SJ Clark, AM Dewar, LG Firbank, AJ Haughton, C Hawes, MS Heard, MJ May, JL Osborne, JN Perry, P Rothery, DB Roy, RJ Scott, GR Squire, IP Woiwod and GT Champion - Proceedings of the Royal Society, B: Biological Sciences, (2005) 272, 463–474, March 2005 - electronic appendix:

GM protesters win three-year court battle - Highland News (Scotland), 14/10/2004
FOUR GM crop protesters convicted of aggravated trespass for their part in a protest at Munlochy on the Black Isle in August 2001 won their appeal at the High Court in Edinburgh last week. "GM Martyr" Donnie MacLeod from Ardersier, Catriona Spink from Gorthleck, Dan Puplett from Findhorn, and James Grigg from Auldearn, had their convictions quashed. In April last year they were found guilty by Sheriff Alexander Pollock at Dingwall Sheriff Court of aggravated trespass at Tullich Farm, near Munlochy, and fined GBP100 each. The quartet successfully claimed last week that Sheriff Alexander Pollock, who convicted them, had erred by rejecting a submission that the Crown had failed to identify in court the field in which the GM crop was planted, and in which the offences were alleged to have taken place. The field had been identified by an Ordnance Survey map grid reference, but no map had been produced during their trial. The defendants had also produced as grounds for appeal their claims that no trespass was involved; that the sowing of the GM crop was being carried out unlawfully, and that an organic farmer had the right to enjoy his possessions without undue interference under the European Human Rights Act - although these points were not proceeded with. The three appeal judges, headed by Lord Marnoch, granted the appeal, saying it was not apparent that the sheriff had consulted an Ordnance Survey map, nor was it apparent that had he done, the field on which the alleged trespass took place could clearly have been identified.
Mr MacLeod (56), an organic farmer, of Kylerona Farm, Ardersier - who in the course of the GM dispute was jailed for 21 days for refusing to give evidence against fellow protesters - said later: "The verdict of the appeal judges vindicates the stance taken at Munlochy and sends a message to the multinational GM companies that the people of the Highlands do not want or need their bully-boy tactics on GM crops."It has taken three years to clear ourselves, and we should not have been convicted in the first place." News/News&id=20682&ARTICLECAT=News

Western Isles ready to join as Highland GM-free zone grows - The Scotsman, 19th June 2004
WESTERN Isles councillors are set to join colleagues in Highland and Moray and declare their area a GM-free zone. Members of the islands’ environmental services committee have recommended that the authority takes the action in line with Highland Council’s decision in April to join a European network of regions free from genetically-modified produce - the first area in Scotland or England to do so. Angus Nicolson, the committee chairman, said: "We fully support the Highland Council stance and are happy to work with them in ensuring that Highlands and Islands become GM-free." Richard Durham, the chairman of Highland’s land and environment select committee, who addressed the island council’s committee in Stornoway, said: "Following on from the similar decision by Moray Council last month, we now have a significant GM-free region in the Highlands and Islands.....Cullen to Carloway, Dunnet to Duror - that’s a huge area and a great achievement, but Highland Council will continue to canvass support for its GM-free stance from the other councils in the Highlands and Islands area." The council has been at the forefront of the GM debate since a field trial was held at Munlochy in the Black Isle. The authority took a case to the Court of Session, arguing that trials should be subject to planning regulations, but it lost. In November, it adopted a policy to take steps to encourage a GM-free zone in the Highlands. Mr Durham added: "The Highland Council was propelled into the GM debate by the crop trials on the Black Isle. But the more we have engaged with the issue and the more we have learned about GM, the more areas of concern we have uncovered.....We are inviting our neighbours in the Highlands and Islands to join with us in creating a GM-free zone that covers the whole of the Highlands and Islands. It is important that we work together to be seen as a region in the eyes of Brussels....We should not be ashamed to push the environmental image of our farms and mour produce. And let's not be afraid to ask for a price premium for it. I believe we can make our GM-free status a selling point."

Council backs blanket ban on GM produce - The Scotsman - Fri 16th Apr 2004
HIGHLAND councillors yesterday backed a move to make the region a GM-free zone, although a ban is not legally enforceable. The council agreed to join a European network of regions free from genetically-modified produce - the first area in Scotland and England to do so - to protect the Highlands' reputation for producing pure and healthy food.
Highland has been invited, with regions in Spain, Greece and Romania, to send a representative to meet the ten members which founded the network, at a conference in Austria on 28 April. The network was set up last November and includes Wales, the only UK region to join so far.
Last night, the council's move was welcomed by Dr Eleanor Scott, a Highlands and Islands Green MSP, who urged other councils to follow suit. She criticised the Scottish Executive for not using its own powers to prevent GM crops being commercially grown in Scotland.
Jim Wallace, the Deputy First Minister, who was visiting Aviemore where the council met yesterday, said although a GM ban was not legally enforceable, the executive would give guidance to the council in setting up a voluntary exclusion zone.
The council was at the forefront of the GM debate when a field trial was held at Munlochy, in the Black Isle. The authority took a case to the Court of Session, arguing that trials should be subject to planning regulations, but lost.
In November, it adopted a policy to take steps to encourage a GM-free zone in the Highlands.
Richard Durham, who will represent the council at the Austria conference, said: "If you look at the regions represented in the network, Aquitaine, Limousin, Tuscany, Wales and others, they are all big areas and the whole body of opinion is that they want their areas to be GM-free. They are saying we don?t want any GM organisms [GMOs] in the food that we produce. This is driven by people who live in these areas and they do not want genetically-modified food. Food in the Highlands and Islands has always been seen as healthy and pure and people in the Highlands also very much feel they do not want GMOs to come into our production." He said he also wanted to see the Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland, Argyll and Bute and Moray joining the campaign to make the entire region GM-free.
A Caithness member, Graeme Smith, was the only councillor to object to the move. He said: "This is a gesture and I want to dissociate myself from it. The fears raised about Frankenstein foods have no credibility. The recent tests dealt only with pesticide regimes and it is naïve to think that the Highlands and Islands can be a new Garden of Eden."


Devinder Sharma in Scotland - Highland GM battle inspires Indians - The Scotsman, 27th Mar 2004
ONE of the world's leading opponents of genetically modified crops has backed the campaign to keep Scotland GM-free. Devinder Sharma, an award-winning journalist, writer and researcher on food and trade policy, said campaigners in other parts of the world had been inspired by protesters in the Highlands who fought GM field trials in the Black Isle. He has also revealed that a forthcoming Bollywood film will feature a story of the cloning of humans which could help the fight against GM technology in his native India. Mr Sharma, who is at the forefront of the campaign against the introduction of GM crops to India, was in the Highlands yesterday, and visited the site at Munlochy where a vigil was set up three years ago to protest at the trialling of GM crops. This week he also held a briefing for MPs in the House of Commons. He said it was "very sad" that the Scottish Executive and the UK government had given qualified consent to the GM maize crop. "There is no benefit from GM maize to the UK, but it is an indication that the government gave in to industry pressure." However, he said: "Britain is the only country that has stood up to these issues. It is a model for the world. There was a time when it was said that the sun would never set on the British Empire ... but the empire crumbled. Today the sun does not set on the multi-national corporations, but I have a feeling that this empire will also crumble." Mr Sharma said that news of the Munlochy protest had reached campaigners in Delhi. "This was a unique model. Here were ordinary people standing up to fight this monster. This was remarkable," he said, "and that gave us inspiration that if people can come together for this here, it can happen elsewhere also." He added: "Scotland particularly needs to keep its pristine beauty for posterity. It would be foolish if Scotland gets into GM crops. You have wonderful landscapes and wonderful nature; why would you want to destroy it? It should be GM-free."
He dismissed claims that GM crops could help the hungry in the Third World: "Today we have 840 million people who go to bed hungry and the [biotech] industry says that number will rise to 1.5 billion by 2015, so therefore you need GM crops. One third of the world's hungry live in India, but they are not hungry because there is no food, but because they cannot afford food. In 2001-2, India had a recorded surplus of 65 million tons of wheat and rice." Instead of money being spent on subsidising food for poorer people, some of it had gone on research into GM crops, he said. "When you put that money to GM research you are taking it out of the mouths of people who are hungry, for research that is not wanted." Mr Sharma went on: "The Indian government has allocated $12 million (£6.6 million) for research on GM rice. If this money was diverted to feed the poor, they could have fed 12 million people for at least three years." Mr Sharma also revealed that he suggested to a leading director a storyline for a forthcoming Bollywood movie in which he will now appear. "It will be a love affair, but the story is that the boy discovers that the girl is a clone. I think it will be a very strong message."
Anthony Jackson, one of the Munlochy campaigners, said: "Devinder has a unique perspective on this issue. There has been a lot of moral blackmail that GM will feed the world, but he has presented proof that it will do anything but. To feed the world, we need the political will to lift people out of poverty."

18th March 2004 The Scottish Parliament came within a vote of blocking GM crop cultivation across the whole of theUK. The vote was 59 for the opposition Scottish National Party's motion (backed by the Greens, the Tories and the Scottish Socialist Party) calling for the approval of the GM maize Chardon LL to be blocked with only 60 against and 1 abstention. Crucially for this debate and the vote, an opposition member, rather than the Presiding Officer, was in the Chair. This debarred the opposition member from voting for the motion to block theGM crop. If the other Deputy Presiding Officer had been in the Chair, the motion would have been carried and the Executive defeated. The debate and vote have really underlined the strength of opposition to GM crops. If the Scottish Executive acquiesces in the necessary national seed listing for the UK, it will only be because by some odd chance the Presiding Officer was away and an opposition member in his place. The Executive has absolutely no mandate and also knows full well that the overwhelming majority of the Scottish people are completely opposed to the growing of GM crops.

The Munlochy GM Vigil thanks all those who wrote to Members of the Scottish Parliament to tell them of their concerns over GM crops. E-mails and letters flooded in and MSPs had never seen anything like it. But they may have to get used to it because this is just the start of our campaign to make sure that GM crops are never ever grown commercially in Scotland or anywhere else in the UK.

For the GM Debate in the Scottish Parliament and for the vote at Decision Time go to

In the last debate of 29th May 2002 the decision was:for 62, Against 55, Abstentions 3 (see

"...................Scots are uneasy about GM crops and there is little support for their early commercialisation, so we will take action to protect the interests of Scottish consumers and to ensure consumer choice. We believe that a statutory co-existence measure should exist to prevent cross-contamination. Compensation that is funded by the GM industry will be provided for any cross-contamination that occurs in Scotland. In areas where GM maize could be grown, we wish to establish GM-free zones..................................I believe that almost all members of the Parliament are sceptical about GM crops. I am sceptical about GM crops. That scepticism is why we insisted on putting in place the regime that I described, why we take the precautionary approach and why we ensured that the two crops that showed harm to the environment were rejected. We will continue to take that sceptical stance not only in our debates and decisions in Scotland, but in our discussions at the UK level, in which we will push that case, and at the European level............................"

(Jack McConnell, First Minister, in reply to questions in the chamber of the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, 11th March 2004 - in the Official Report ,columns 6568-6589,


Fury as Executive 'buckles' under GM pressure - The Scotsman, 10th March 2004

THEY LACK BACKBONE AND THIS IS NOTHING LESS THAN A WIMP OUT - MSP blasts Executive `cave-in' over GM crops - The Daily Record, 10th March 2004

MSPs to consult farmers over GM crops - Scotland Today, 9th March 2004
"MSPs say they will consult with farmers about setting up voluntary GM free zones in Scotland after the Westminster government gave the go-ahead for growing genetically modified maize. But opposition parties are accusing the Executive of caving in, instead of using its powers to block the crops altogether."

The Farm-Scale Evaluation results for the spring-sown gm crops were published on 16/10/03 by the Royal Society and also on13/10/03, four Defra-funded research studies (three concerning gene flow from GM crops and the fourth into the effect of farm management on wildlife) have been published. Go to Reports and the UK page for more. So far the Scottish Executive minister for the Environment and Rural Affairs has been noticeably quiet on issues raised by these reports on unequivocal adverse effects to the environment. Mr Finnie now has all the evidence he needs.

The GM Nation? Public Debate Report was published on 24/9/03. Go to Reports and the UK page for more.

The Cartegna Biosafety Protocol came into force as an international agreement on the 11th September, 2003. A new campaign has been launched - Bite Back: WTO hands off our food! For more on this go to Things to Do

West Lothian Council voted to declare itself a GM Free Zone on 9th December, 2003. It proposes to use Article 19, 2001/18 EC

The contact there is Cllr Martyn Day: - 01506 777283

Press & Journal - 7 November 2003 - Angus MacDonald
Highland Council's land and environment committee has set its face against any growing of GM crops in the Highlands. The committee decided to advise the council to take steps to make the Highlands a GM-free zone. The council will also be asked to open discussions with another 10 regions throughout Europe which are investigating the possibility of establishing GM-free zones with legal backing.
Farmers and crofters, as well as neighbouring local authorities, will be asked to support the action and the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department (Seerad) will be asked to establish robust rules on co-existence to ensure that no GM contamination comes into the area from other areas of Britain which might want to grow GM crops.
Councillor Basil Dunlop said that, in the light of the results from GM crop trials, the signal from the public was clear. "The public are right to be concerned. The only positive note that came from the trials that some maize encouraged biodiversity also revealed that it used a herbicide that is due to come off the market. The EU has said that there is a general right to grow GM crops, and that makes a nonsense of Commissioner Franz Fischler's encouragement of farmers and others to refrain from growing GM crops on a voluntary basis. The only safe way forward is to ban GM crops."
Councillor Liz Macdonald pointed out that Upper Austria was appealing against a decision which prevents them declaring their region a GM-free zone. "They are trying to set up a network of GM-free regions across the EU and the Highlands should consider becoming part of this," she said.
Council vice-convener Michael Foxley said: "I am a firm believer in the council providing leadership on these issues. In future, if they want to carry out GM trials they should take place somewhere like the Isle of Wight where they might be able to contain them. The trials carried out in Munlochy in the Black Isle were not scientific, they were a complete joke. A whole range of variables were not observed such as what was happening in the soil. SNH (Scottish Natural Heritage) supported the trial because they thought it would have a positive effect on biodiversity. Now that it's proved it didn't, they should speak out against GM crops. If they are concerned about black-throated divers as part of the Highland biodiversity, they should definitely be concerned about GM crops." He added: "There are a lot of initiatives throughout the Highlands to grow and market locally-produced food of high quality from a natural environment. If the rest of the UK and Europe want to follow what is an American initiative that is up to them. We should send out the message that we want to promote the Highlands and Islands as a natural clean environment, and that the area should be a GM-free zone."

The Public Debate


The Public Debate on gm crops ( see ) has just been launched in Scotland - on Wednesday 11th June in Glasgow (it was launchedUK wide in Birmingham on Tuesday 3rd June). Although this has been low key so far it is a chance for the public to air their views and is an opportunity that shouldn't be missed. The Munlochy GM Vigil encourages people to post their views on the Public Debate web site ( and go to to and fill in the form ) and take part in any events that may be organised in your immediate local area.


The debate was full at 150! Good mix of participants, by age, sex, knowledge of GM and background. A straw-poll at the end showed:

- GM crops should be grown in UK: 4 (inc GM trial farmer + wife) - Unsure: 3 - GM crops should not be grown in UK: 143.

A series of events will take place across the Highlands to enable people to take part in the National Debate on GM crops.

As many people as possible are being encouraged to voice their opinions. Events are being held at:

Ullapool: 20th June, The Ceilidh Place (from 6.30pm) Tain: 30th June, Duthac Centre (from 7.30pm) Inverness: 1st July, Charleston Academy, 7pm. Charleston Academy, 7pm. Nairn: 2nd July, Nairn Academy, 7pm. Forres: 3rd July, Forres Academy, 7.30pm. Ardersier: 4th July, Macleod Organics (from 7pm) Munlochy: 8th July, Munlochy Village Hall (from 7pm). Isle of Skye: 15th July, Breakish Hall, 8pm

Although there has been some concern expressed about how the Government will take on board the findings from "GM Nation" it is clear that the more people that take part, the more the Government will listen. The results will also be noted by those who will have to make commercial decisions about GM crops and food, including farmers, biotech companies and supermarkets. If people are unable to attend any of the events, views can still be expressed on the GM Nation website: Further information from: Anthony Jackson (07720 817 847) Sarah Allen (Highland Council; 01463 724338) further details of all regional debates available on GM Nation? website:

From: THE SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE - 25 July 2003 EXECUTIVE TAKES FURTHER PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES ON GM TRIALS The Scottish Executive has taken steps to ensure that farmers who have planted oil seed rape as part of the GM Farm Scale Trials have been advised not to plant conventional oil seed rape this year. This precautionary action follows preliminary findings of Government commissioned research which shows that seeds from both conventional and GM oil seed rape crops persist in the soil longer than previously thought. These steps are designed to ensure that GM oil seed rape does not accidentally enter the supply chain and will reduce the potential for commercial consequences to the farmers. The precautionary measure has been agreed between the Executive, Defra and their independent scientific advisors, the Advisory Committee on Releases
to the Environment (ACRE). ACRE - the government's independent GM crops advisory body - have not raised any environmental or human health concerns.

Deputy Environment Minister Allan Wilson said: "Throughout the conduct of these farm scale trials we have been entirely clear that our first priority is to protect public health and the environment. There continues to be no risk to either. "This action is aimed at preventing GM material from trial crops turning up in any subsequent conventional crop and will enable farmers to eradicate any remaining GM plants with herbicide. "Farmers taking part in these tests are under a legal obligation to prevent any GM material whether planted or adventitious from entering the supply chain. Those involved in the trials have been reminded of these requirements. We will continue to monitor and review the position in order to ensure that these obligations are met. "These research findings will be taken into account in our evaluation of the farm scale trials which will in turn inform future policy on the commercialisation of GM in Scotland. We will ensure that there are opportunities for peer review of this research and of the trials and to allow others, including environmental organisations, to comment on them. "No further trials or commercial planting will be permitted until this process has been completed."

Normal patterns of crop rotation mean that some farmers who planted rape three years ago, as the trial farmers did, might now be looking to plant it again. Instead, the farmers are being encouraged to use other conventional crops to facilitate the eradication of any persistent GM plants. There are no similar concerns with the other GM crops being trialled in the UK - maize seed cannot survive over winter in the UK and beet crops are prevented from setting seed.

The first set of FSE results is to be published by the Royal Society in September. Following this, ACRE are to hold an open meeting for stakeholders at which they will be able to comment on the findings.

The precautionary action taken is based on preliminary results from government commissioned research projects into the potential for oil seed rape volunteers. It suggests that oil seed rape seeds (both GM and conventional) persist in greater quantities in the ground than had previously been found. The research will be made public as soon as it has been finalised and peer reviewed later in the summer.

Go to the Scottish Executive website:

May Election 2003

Party Policies:

Green Party - highly critical of GM crops and food.

Scottish Socialist Party - highly critical of GM crops and food.

Scottish Nationalist Party - proven track record throughout the last parliamentary period of 1999 -2003 that they are highly critical of GM crops and food.

Labour Party - committed to taking the precautionary approach but have allowed the open air growing of GM crops in the wider environment.

Liberal-Democratic Party - the party is split over GM crops and food although whilst part of the Scottish Executive they allowed the growing of GM crops in the wider environment with the minister responsible for the environment being a Liberal-Democrat.

Conservative Party - worked constructively with all other parties in the Scottish Parliament on the Munlochy Petition, especially within the committees, whilst the party's policy remains ultra-precautionary.

Post election the Munlochy GM Vigil will continue to work with the Scottish Parliament and continue to challenge the Scottish Executive of whatever political party complexion if necessary (see Things To Do).


Labour 50 (-6), Liberal-Democrats 17 (+0), Scottish National Party 27 (-8), Conservative 18 (+0), Green Party 7 (+6), Scottish Socialist Party 6 (+5), Independents 4 (+3).

Obvious benefits for the Green Party and the Scottish Socialist Party but also for an independent caucus within the Scottish Parliament.

The formation of another Labour-Lib-Dem coalition with a smaller majority reduced by 6 bodes well. If the Tories follow their previous policies set by John Scott and Mary Scanlon, the Scottish Executive could be in far greater difficulties holding its previous line.

The Highland Council website ran a Genetically Modified Crop Trials Forum until October 2003, see

April 2003


Protesters fined for damaging GM oilseed rape – Scotsman – 18/4/03

Fines for protesters who disrupted GM crops trial – Press and Journal – 18/4/03

North East farmer is unfit to keep her guns – Press and Journal – 28/4/03

March 2003

GM protesters test trespass law in Scottish court – Scotsman – 6/3/03

Crop protesters are convicted of trespass / Highland presses EC: we want to be GM free / Making Highland a by word for quality (editorial) – Press and Journal – 7/3/03

GM activists are guilty of trespass – Herald – 7/3/03

Arrogant ministers dismiss GM report – Daily Mail – 12/3/03

Outrage as Executive scorns GM crops plea / Executive’s stance is not surprising (editorial) – Press and Journal – 12/3/03

Finnie says GM report is flawed / GM farmer wanted 24 hour protection – Scotsman – 12/3/03

Ministers reject report into GM food trials – Daily Telegraph – 12/3/03

Ministers reject report on GM crops – Herald – 12/3/03

GM five make legal history – Ross-shire Journal – 13/3/03

GM court ruling row (Right to roam is under threat claims lawyer) – Highland News – 15/3/03

Voters urged to make GM crops an election issue – Inverness Courier – 21/3/03

GM trial verdicts – Press and Journal – 21/3/03

Insects thrive on GM pest killing crops – Independent on Sunday – 30/3/03


Ministers reject report into GM food trials - The Daily Telegraph, 12/03/2003 -
Scottish ministers were last night accused of "unbelievable smugness and arrogance" when they rejected a Holyrood report which claimed that tests on genetically modified crops could have put the public at risk. Ross Finnie, the Environment Minister, took the unprecedented step of dismissing an investigation into GM crops by the Scottish Parliament's health committee. Mr Finnie criticised MSPs on the committee for ignoring scientific advice in the report, which expressed concern over the health effects of GM trials on oil seed rape in Munlochy on the Black Isle, Newport-on-Tay, Fife, and Invergowrie, near Dundee.
The Scottish Executive's response to the report into the three-year trials was the first time the work of a parliamentary committee has been categorically rejected by ministers. The Executive said the report was "fundamentally flawed" and there was no "substantive evidence" to question the trials' safety. MSPs were criticised for relying on evidence produced by those with little knowledge of GM technology and ignoring research suggesting that GM crops pose no greater risk than non-GM varieties. "The views of the committee members are clearly at odds with the evidence of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Executive's independent scientific advisers. It would be irresponsible of ministers and the Executive to ignore the knowledge and expertise of expert advisory bodies," said Mr Finnie. But members of the health committee, who published the report after an anti-GM crop petition was lodged at parliament by environmental campaigners, were angered by his comments. In their report, MSPs voiced concern over monitoring procedures and urged the Executive to examine the effects on human health near trial areas. The committee suggested that tests carried out on the trials were more concerned with proving the safety of GM crops than assessing hazards. Mary Scanlon, the Scottish Tory health spokesman and committee member, said the Executive's position threatened Holyrood's committee system. "This is a staggering situation," she said. "The minister is acting with unbelievable smugness and arrogance. He has also called into question the committee system in the Scottish Parliament, which was always hailed as one of its great strengths."

Today's rejection by the Scottish Executive of the report on GM crop trials by the Health Committee of the Scottish Parliament (see below) needs to be set in context. In mid-January the members of the Health Committee issued a highly critical report on GM crop safety. The all-party Committeehad  considered evidence from a range of experts, including the government's advisory committees on GM food and crops, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the British Medical Association and Dr Arpad Pusztai. Dr Charles Saunders, who had given evidence on behalf of the BMA during the parliamentary inquiry, warmly welcomed the report. The BMA's own submission had been unequivocal. Warning of "possibly irreversible environmental risk" and "as yet unquantified public health implications", it called for much more research before GMOs are "permitted to be freely cultivated." But from the moment it was published the report was under attack. On the very day the Scottish report was due to hit the media, the Royal Society (of London) just happened to publish some Monsanto-funded research on GM crops, which it hyped by way of press release to the hills. The effect was that south of the border, the Scottish report was largely displaced from the headlines by news that research had shown that GM crops could help skylarks and other endangered birds to flourish - a truly remarkable finding given that the research in question hadn't even looked at birds!
Another flurry of GM news stories soon broke. BBC reports stated that the BMA, whose Board of Science had published its original position statement on GM in 1999, would be reconsidering its position and undertaking a further report. The very same day an article appeared in The Independent headlined, "Scientists blame media and fraud for fall in public trust". The article, reflecting the views of the Royal Society, and an accompanying editorial, categorised Arapd Pusztai's research as "fraud" and claimed it had not been peer-reviewed. All of these stories hit the headlines in the fortnight following the report and one does not have to be a cynic to perceive a clear line of news management: to bury the report and destroy the credibility of those experts that the committee found most persuasive. The attacks on Pusztai were straight fabrication. In a press release responding to the BBC's reports about the BMA's supposed change of heart, Dr Vivienne Nathanson, Head of BMA Science and Ethics, said "Today's BBC reports stating why the BMA would be undertaking a future report of GM crops and food is wrong." Their review was routine, said the BMA, and there would not necessarily even be a further report. They also described specific claims in the BBC report as "totally incorrect" and "wrong".
Today the Scottish Executive finds it inconceivable that the Health Committee could have preferred the evidence of Dr Pusztai and the BMA to that of the government's advisors and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. And it not only repeats information from media reports that the BMA rejected - it goes one better. According to the Executive's statement, "The British Medical Association (BMA) has recently acknowledged that there has been a 'lot more science' since their position statement on GM was published in 1999." But this phrase  - a 'lot more science' - not only occurs in the BBC reports that the BMA rejected as "wrong" but EVEN IN THOSE REPORTS THIS PHRASE WAS NEVER ATTRIBUTED TO THE BMA. "Sir Peter Lachman, a professor immunology at Cambridge University, said there had been "a lot more science" since the report was published and a review was needed." - Sir Peter Lachman, as the Executive could not fail to know, has long been an outspoken critic of the BMA and has been at the centre of controversy over GM for many years.
When the Executive in order to sustain its position as evidence-based engages in what is clearly disinformation intended to unfairly undermine the British Medical Association's position, what are we to conclude? Scotland's Environment Minister, Ross Finnie has always maintained that he has to be guided by the official advisory committees like ACRE. He is therefore forced to defend them to save himself, and it is revealing that ACRE are even quoted in this press release in what was clearly a coordinated response, as if they were part of the ruling executive. In 1998 when Monsanto asked Stanley Greenberg to analyse its situation in Britain, he found public acceptance of its genetically modified foods across all social groups falling dramatically, but paradoxically support amongst the political elite was found to be increasing. Those interviewed included upper-level civil servants, including chief scientists, and MPs.  When asked whether the introduction of GM foods should be allowed or stopped in Britain, this group became quite articulate about "the future of biotechnology".
But, just as with the need for the war on Iraq, they are failing to persuade the rest of us that they have the evidence to support their case. According to an editorial in the Aberdeen Press and Journal, the views of the Health Committee who open mindedly listened to all sides are very different. "Their views are every bit as acerbic as those of the most cynical environmentalist and the most worried layman, which creates the broadest spectrum of opposition to crop trials yet seen in Scotland."

Executive rejects report on GM crop trials - - 11/03/2003
The Executive today published a substantive response to the Health and Community Care Committee's (HCCC) report on GM Crop Trials, rejecting all the recommendations. The response details the 'shortcomings' of the HCCC report; the failure by the Committee to take proper account of the weight of scientific evidence presented during the inquiry, and the rigour of the existing regulations.  Ross Finnie, Minister for the Environment and Rural Development, said:  "The views of the Committee members are clearly at odds with the evidence of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Executive's independent scientific advisers. It would be irresponsible of Ministers and the Executive to ignore the knowledge and expertise of expert advisory bodies." "I am concerned and extremely disappointed that the Committee has ignored the volume of evidence recording confidence in the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment's approach to risk assessment and the quality of scientific advice it offers Ministers." "In particular I support ACRE's case by case approach to considering the risks and benefits associated with the release of GMOs. This approach enables factors such as the variety of GMOs involved and the proposed location and scale of release to be taken into account." Deputy Health Minister Mary Mulligan said: "This is a very detailed response from the Executive and it makes clear that the Committee's report, which is critical of aspects of the management of the Farm Scale Evaluations of GM Crops, is not supported by the available evidence...It represents what, in fact, the Committee acknowledged - its inability "to deliberate definitively on the complex scientific questions that GM crop trials raise or adjudicate on competing interpretations of scientific evidence...The available scientific evidence supports the view that the Farm Scale Evaluation programme is well-founded, well-regulated and designed to increase our knowledge about GM crops, while taking proportionate measures to protect public health."
A spokesman for the Advisory Committee on release to the Environment (ACRE), which advises Scottish Ministers on the regulation of the deliberate release of GMOs into the environment, said: "ACRE's view remains that the risk assessment of the release of GMOs is careful, thorough and scientifically sound, and is in accordance with the criteria set out in the relevant Directive 2001/18."
The Health and Community Care Committee Report on GM Crop Trials was published on January 14, 2003. The British Medical Association (BMA) has recently acknowledged that there has been a 'lot more science' since their position statement on GM was published in 1999. On January 31 the BMA indicated plans to convene a round table meeting later this year of scientists with knowledge of the developments in research and other evidence.

GM licensing gets go ahead - Scots and Welsh furious as crop trials are sidelined -,9061,907026,00.html
Tuesday March 4, 2003 - The Guardian
Government plans to press ahead with licensing commercial use of genetically modified crops, before the results of trials are known and a public debate on the issue has been held, yesterday angered both the Scottish executive and the Welsh assembly. Margaret Beckett, the environment secretary, has decided that 18 applications to the EU for growing and importing crops such as GM maize, oil seed rape, sugar beet and cotton are unstoppable and the British government has no alternative but to process them. In the past few weeks Bayer has applied directly to Mrs Beckett to plant and market GM oil seed rape, and Monsanto has applied to import GM maize. This led to a protest from the Scottish executive, which says scientific evidence from the crop trials is not yet available and therefore cannot be taken into account. The public debate on the issue is due to begin in May and conclude in September. Ross Finnie, the Scottish environment minister, has made a personal protest to Mrs Beckett and demanded the licensing process be halted.
A week ago Mrs Beckett doubled to GBP500,000 the funding of the government-spon sored debate on the introduction of GM crops to Britain and extended it from June to September. This had been requested by Malcolm Grant, chairman of the committee organising the debate, and the Scottish and Welsh administrations, which have elections in May and wanted to debate the issue afterwards. The government promised to take full account of the views thrown up by the public debate and the evidence from the crop trials before any commercial planting took place. The trials are to discover whether GM crops affect the environment and the number of weeds and insects surviving on farmland. A spokesman for the Scottish executive said: "It would be premature, and in our view improper, to grant licences to grow crops before the public's views were known. What is the point of the debate otherwise? We think Mrs Beckett has misinterpreted the situation, and it is quite possible to postpone decisions."
The executive is discussing the issue with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and trying to reach a common position to take to Brussels which would let the UK postpone any decisions until after the debate. Sue Mayer, of the lobby group Genewatch, who is also a member of the agriculture and environment biotechnology commission set up to consider the issue, said: "It is premature, not to say outrageous, to carry on the licensing of GM crops before either the scientific evidence has been gathered or the public consulted. It makes the whole exercise seem pointless." The Welsh also believe that granting applications before the debate would be premature. In a statement last night a spokeswoman for the Welsh assembly said they were negotiating with Defra on the issue.
A second complication in the government plans also emerged yesterday. The results of three years of farm scale trials which should have been released in June, in time for the debate, will probably not be known until afterwards. In a letter to Professor Grant, the Royal Society said that as a result of its lengthy peer review process the results might not be available until after the end of September. Yesterday a spokesman for Defra confirmed that licensing would take place without considering the outcome of the public debate. "It is a debate not a referendum." As far as scientific evidence was concerned, it was possible for the government to revoke or amend licences if new evidence emerged on either public health or environmental damage, he added.

February 2003

Debate descends into farce – Sunday Herald – 2/2/03

GM food debate could be pointless – Press and Journal – 3/2/03

Row over minister’s appearance at GM crops trial – Press and Journal – 8/2/03

GM activists fail to get minister to attend court – Press and Journal – 15/2/03

Meacher at odds with PM over GM crops / Doubts still linger over benefits of GM crops (editorial) – Press and Journal – 17/2/03

Government minister is unlikely ally for GM critics – Press and Journal - 18/2/03

GM farmer denies gun threat to BBC – Scotsman – 18/2/03

Report backs GM crop farmer’s gun rights battle – Press and Journal – 19/2/03

MSP says police chief over reacted by revoking farmer’s gun licence – Scotsman – 19/2/03

GM crop farmer warned police that media would not be safe on land – Scotsman – 20/2/03

More time for public say on GM crops – Guardian – 20/2/03

Farmer told officer media not safe near farm court hears – Press and Journal – 20/2/03

Protesters welcome news of national GM trials debate – Press and Journal – 28/2/03 

January 2003

GM ruling – Press and Journal – 9/1/03

MSPs seek new rules on GM crop trials – Times – 15/1/03

Bid to halt GM trials – Daily Record – 15/1/03

SNP say GM trials must end – Daily Mirror – 15/1/03

Cavalier approach to GM crop safety is condemned (Official report finds not enough being done to protect human health) / Sowing seeds of unknown danger (editorial) – Daily Mail – 15/1/03

Health risk fears spark call for moratorium on GM crop trials – Scotsman – 15/1/03

Ministers mishandled GM tests – Herald - 15/1/03

Caution urged in giving go ahead to GM crop trials / Alarming risks of GM trialling (editorial) – Press and Journal – 15/1/03

GM crops are helping to save the skylark – Daily Telegraph – 15/1/03

Scientists grow bird friendly sugar beet – Guardian – 15/1/03

Threatened species of birds could gain from GM crops – Financial Times – 15/1/03

GM crop protest case dismissed – Ross-shire Journal – 16/1/03

New report cited by GM campaigners – Inverness Courier – 17/1/03

Protesters welcome GM crops findings – Press and Journal – 18/1/03

Sowing the seeds of dispute – Press and Journal – 27/1/03

The Executive has been urged to be more cautious in approving GM crop tests in Scotland. And ministers have been told more work needs to be done to assess the impact of such trials on the people living near to them.  A parliamentary committee accused the Executive yesterday of flouting the "precautionary principle" by allowing GM crop trials to continue. The health committee is not satisfied that risk assessment in the trials is robust enough for the principle - ensuring that potential harm does not outweigh possible benefits - to be applied. In its report, issued yesterday, on the impact of the farm-scale trials on public health, the committee finds the assessment process is "flawed" and urges the Executive to show greater caution when approving the tests. It also calls for more investigation into what could happen if genetically-modified crops entered the food chain and for more rigorous monitoring of health in communities close to trial sites. The Executive now has eight weeks in which to respond to the report but there will not be enough time for it to be the subject of a parliamentary debate before Parliament is dissolved at the end of March, prior to May's election. However, an Executive spokesman said there was no question of the report being shelved and added: "The Scottish Executive will consider the conclusions of the health and community care committee's report in detail and respond fully in due course."
Crop trials, which have so far solely involved oilseed rape, have been authorised at nine sites in Scotland, including Munlochy on the Black Isle, Invergowrie near Dundee, and Daviot, Udny, Tillycorthie and Rothienorman, all in Aberdeenshire. A long-running protesters' vigil has been held at the Munlochy site while approval for the Invergowrie site was given to the Scottish Crop Research Institute.
One of the anti-GM campaigners, Anthony Jackson, submitted to Parliament a petition which inspired the health committee's inquiry. The petition, which sought an immediate end to the farm-scale trials and a debate on the future handling of GM crops, was initially scrutinised by MSPs on the environment committee but they referred it on after Environment Minister Ross Finnie refused to accede to their call for the Munlochy trial to be halted.  Shirley Harrison, the farmer on whose land the Daviot trials have been conducted, has said she believes the results of the tests will shape the future of agriculture. However, the health committee's report expresses grave misgivings about the manner in which the trials have been handled by the Executive. It believes a number of questions remain unanswered, including how regulations protect public health from any risks posed by GM organisms; what effect public consultation would have on public health protection measures; and what role would be played by the Health and Safety Executive, the Food Standards Agency and the Advisory Committee on Release into the Environment (Acre) in implementing new measures, introduced last year, aimed at safeguarding health and the environment.
The report also states that, for the precautionary principle to have been met by the Executive, the current risk assessment procedure would have to be "sufficiently robust to adequately assess all potential hazards to human health". However, the committee is not convinced this has happened. The committee believes health-risk assessment of the trials does not appear to follow a standard format. It sets out to prove the safety of GMOs rather than properly assess potential hazards and places too much emphasis on "model assumptions" rather than hard scientific assessment. Concern is expressed by the committee that "even pro-trial organisations seem to accept the inevitability of GM contamination" and it recommends that all GM crops considered for trials should be tested "as if they were entering the food chain, even if they were not intended to be so used". The report adds: "The arguments being applied to counter the argument that GM crops may be hazardous to health - that no empirical evidence of harm has so far emerged - are similar to those applied in the past concerning other public concerns, where evidence of hazards to public health has subsequently emerged."  Committee convener Margaret Smith said: "While we acknowledge that we are not qualified to deliberate definitively on the complex scientific questions that are raised, we have heard enough evidence to come to the view that the Executive's approach has not been sufficiently robust."
Mr Jackson said the Munlochy vigil was renewing its call for an immediate moratorium on the trials. He said: "Until the major issues raised in the health committee report have been addressed, GM crops should not be grown in the open environment." Kevin Stewart, of Grampian Against GM, also believed the trials should stop immediately but added: "This evidence, I would argue, isn't particularly new. It has been gathered at the University of Jena in Germany and also in Canada...It's just the fact that the committee itself is finally realising the concerns the public have and have at last come up with the report, which should have been done before the farm-scale trials took place."
The British Medical Association Scotland welcomed the findings of the report. Dr Charles Saunders, chairman of the BMA's Scottish committee for public health, medicine and community health, gave evidence during the parliamentary committee's inquiry. He said: "I am delighted that the committee, having listened to both sides of the debate, are supportive of the BMA's view that we do not know the potential risk GM crops pose to human health."

ALARMING RISKS OF GM TRIALLING - Press & Journal, editorial - 15 January 2003 -
It has taken more than two years, but at last MSPs have voiced formal concerns about the safety of GM crops. Their views are every bit as acerbic as those of the most cynical environmentalist and the most worried layman, which creates the broadest spectrum of opposition to crop trials yet seen in Scotland.
The MSPs' attitude matches that of protesters and commentators: that the risks appear to have been played down and the questionable advantages played up as the corporations behind the technology, mostly American, play for high stakes and even higher profits.  The bottom line on GM crop trials remains unchanged: the onus should not be on sceptics to prove that these are dangerous, but on biotechnology companies and their acolytes to prove that field trials are safe beyond reasonable doubt.
On that basis, the companies will need to show far greater proof than they have cared to provide thus far, as well as accepting much less margin for human error. It is still well remembered that GM seeds were "accidentally" planted on at least one Scottish farm despite express instructions that this was forbidden.
MSPs are worried that risk-assessment and monitoring procedures on Scottish trial farms are seriously lacking. They will find plenty of public support in that.
Even the layman, lacking scientific expertise, knows that windborne pollen travels far farther than the safety margins of present trials, rendering these margins worthless.
It might well be that GM crops offer crop productivity and relief from famine of a kind that has existed so far only in dreams.
Equally, it could be a shabby strategy to develop lucrative patents and stellar profits for a few US corporations, which would then hold other countries to ransom.
Until that is clarified, there is no reason to gamble with Scottish public health for the sake of cheering a boardroom in Missouri.

The Munlochy GM vigil is calling for an immediate moratorium on the growing of GM crops following the damning report published by the health committee of the Scottish Parliament today (available on the Scottish Parliament website). Anthony Jackson of the Vigil states: "Until the major issues raised in the health committee report have been addressed, GM crops should not be grown in the open environment. The report, with complete cross-party consensus, states that the risk assessment procedure upon which the safety of crops is supposedly based is flawed. "The report also most damningly declares that the Executive has not, and is not, following the precautionary principle by allowing GM crop trials to proceed. The Executive has continually stated that they only allow trials to proceed on the basis of the precautionary principle and now must take on board the finding of this full and independent enquiry and put in place a moratorium on GM crops in the open environment...The Health committee could not find sufficient evidence to equivocally state that GM crops or food are safe in terms of human health. Without evidence that there is no harm to human health from GM crops or food it is encumbent upon government to make sure that GM crops are not grown openly or GM foods enter the food chain."

December 2002

Legal point stalls Black Isle GM protest trial – Press and Journal – 5/12/02

GM farmer is unable to say he had a go ahead – Press and Journal – 6/12/02

Protesters’ court claim GM planting was illegal – Press and Journal – 7/12/02

GM expert warns of cancer risk from crops – Sunday Herald – 8/12/02

Cancer risk in GM foods warns top Scots doctor – Press and Journal – 9/12/02

GM protest trial told how campaigner climbed onto tractor roof – Press and Journal – 10/12/02

Brazil’s farm minister supports gene modified crops – Financial Times – 17/12/02

Fears over super weed as GM crops interbreed / Important to take heed of GM warnings (editorial) – Press and Journal – 30/12/02

Genes from GM crops found to be breeding with other plants – Herald – 30/12/02

Survey confirms GM crops contaminate other plants – Scotsman – 30/12/02

November 2002


Fines for Black Isle GM crop raid five – Highland News – 2/11/02

Finnie bans crop trials after fears over GM food – Scotland on Sunday – 3/11/02

Protesters greet move to ban GM crop trials – Press and Journal – 4/11/02

GM crop survey is limited says expert – Press and Journal – 12/11/02

Anti-GM duo seek answers at parliament / GM crop protesters take case to Holyrood – Press and Journal – 13/11/02

Disease warning over GM crop trials – Scotsman – 14/11/02

GM crop trials like Blue Peter job – Herald – 14/11/02

Munlochy petition prompts GM inquiry – Ross-shire Journal – 14/11/02

Crop trials must stop say doctors / Black Isle GM protest is a long term commitment / Fresh questions over BSE and GM crops (editorial) – Scotsman – 19/11/02

Stop GM trials say doctors – Daily Mail – 20/11/02

Scots GM farm trials should stop say doctors – Press and Journal – 20/11/02

BMA report leads to call for halt on GM crop trials – Scotsman – 20/11/02

GM doctors accused over food trials – Press and Journal – 21/11/02

Doctors slated over call to halt GM crops – Scotsman – 21/11/02

MSPs warned on crop trials – Herald – 21/11/02

GM trials legislation claim denied – Press and Journal – 26/11/02

Health chief in GM storm – Scotsman – 28/11/02

Executive is condemned for GM crop trials stance – Press and Journal – 28/11/02

Review of GM strategy will ignore field trials – Guardian – 29/11/02

GM crop study dropped from review – Scotsman – 30/11/02


Crop trials must stop, say doctors - The Scotsman - Tuesday 19 November, 2002 -
SENIOR doctors have demanded an immediate halt to genetically modified crop trials in a move that piles pressure on the Scottish Executive to reconsider its controversial backing for the programme. The British Medical Association (BMA) has warned that insufficient care is being taken to protect public health and that there has been a lack of public consultation about crop trials despite the steady increase in the number of them. The demand that there should be a moratorium on any further planting of GM crops on a commercial basis is made in a submission to the Scottish parliament's health committee. The BMA's warning about the dangers of continuing with trials will be seen by anti-GM crop campaigners as giving powerful weight to their argument that the issue must now be reconsidered by Ross Finnie, the environment minister.
Robin Harper, the Scottish Green Party MSP, said last night: "I am delighted that the BMA have been prepared to take the same line that we have been pursuing for some time. It is a very welcome position and one that must lead to the trials being halted."
The BMA originally set out its case against the further planting of commercially produced GM crops in 1999, but its latest attack is made with the benefit of more information. It will be made tomorrow to the health committee, which is conducting an inquiry into GM crops. The BMA points out that the number of crop trials has increased steadily, without public consultation, since their introduction in the early 1990s. Trials are being held at 178 sites in the UK, 17 are in Scotland. The BMA was asked by the health committee if it believed the Executive should prevent GM crop trials from continuing on the grounds that the policy is against "the precautionary principle to allow them to continue". The BMA responded: "Yes. As with scientific matters, it can be difficult and timeconsuming to demonstrate safety to an acceptable standard. Safety is a relative matter and is generally based on the results of a robust and thorough search for possible harm...There has not yet been a robust and thorough search into the potentially harmful effects of GM foodstuffs on human health. On the basis of the precautionary principle, farm-scale trials should not be allowed to continue." The BMA, which will be represented at the committee hearing by Dr Charles Saunders, a specialist in public health issues, will point out to the MSPs that, following public health disasters such as BSE and foot and mouth disease, public confidence in the scientific communityâo·s approach to agriculture has been undermined. It adds: "Scientists, farmers and politicians need to re-establish public trust. Further research is required into the health and environmental effects of GMOs before they can be permitted to be freely cultivated...This may be executed in such a way as not to expose the population to possibly irreversible environmental risk, which may, in turn, have as yet unquantified public health implications."
The BMA refers in its document to worries about the issue of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance "markers" help identify GM plants and there is evidence that these genes may be transferred to non-GM plants and "possibly into pathogenic organisms causing human disease", it warns. Underlining the responsibility of the parliament and the Executive to protect the nation's health, the BMA says it is disappointed that, to date, the Executive has decided not to include health monitoring of local populations as part of the farm-scale evaluation programme.
In March 2000, four farms, three in Aberdeenshire and one near Munlochy in the Black Isle, were given the go-ahead to plant GM winter oilseed rape. Almost immediately a protest group sprung up in the Black Isle and a 24-hour vigil was established near farmer Jamie Grants land. Since then 17 sites in Scotland have been involved in the three-year research programme. Some protesters have been more direct and the GM crops have been damaged by activists in Munlochy and Fife. In all 28 people have been charged since the trials were approved and one man, Donnie MacLeod, an organic farmer from Ardersier, spent ten days in jail for refusing to identify others taking part in a protest. A Scottish Executive spokesman said the crop experiments currently taking place were final trials under a two-year evaluation scheme. The Executive had already adopted the "precautionary" approach as Mr Finnie had allowed the trials go ahead only after scientific evidence suggested there was no threat to health or the environment.

SCOTLAND TO BAN GM CROP TRIALS - Finnie bans crop trials after fears over GM food - Scotland on Sunday - 3 November 2002
GM CROP trials are to be banned in Scotland next year amid growing public concern at the risks posed by so-called Frankenstein foods. Scotland on Sunday can reveal that rural development minister Ross Finnie intends to reject any further applications from biotech companies for trials for at least a year while the Executive examines the effects of existing trials which end next summer. The moratorium, which would put Scotland at odds with England, where trials will continue next year, is a major concession by Finnie, widely criticised for refusing to stop the crop trials in the past. There has been mounting concern following evidence that oilseed rape grown as part of GM crop trials in Scotland may accidentally have entered the food chain. Britain's Medical Research Council also recently revealed that new genes inserted into food could provoke allergic reactions and alter human DNA, switching on potentially harmful "silent genes". The research body said GM foods could also alter the balance of bacteria in the gut or pass on resistance to antibiotics. Finnie, who has come under intense pressure from his Lib Dem colleagues to ban GM trials, has agreed the party1s election manifesto next year should include a commitment to an immediate moratorium. In an attempt to bolster the party1s green credentials, the manifesto will commit Finnie to ensuring that "no further GM trials will be permitted until the previous series of trials have been thoroughly analysed and a public debate concluded". It will also pledge that this process will not be completed at least until the summer of 2004, giving ministers a chance to "take stock" and reassess the case for GM foods. In view of the extent of public concerns, it could be the first step towards a complete ban on any further GM trials in Scotland. At present, Executive policy is to block any commercial growing of GM crops until the current trials have been assessed, rather than block further trials.
A Lib Dem spokesman said: "We are saying there will have to be a pause while we evaluate the outcome of these trials . Concerns have been expressed and the right way forward is to check the results of the trials first to see if those concerns are valid." The U-turn follows recent evidence that a genetically modified crop trial in the Highlands has been harvested to be sold to British consumers in cooking oil, margarine and ice cream. Those plants were grown as a "comparator" crop alongside GM oilseed rape at Munlochy, Inverness-shire. Ministers have also been alarmed by research which suggests honey from a hive in Fife may have been contaminated with pollen from a nearby GM crop.
Last night the concession received a mixed reaction from environmental campaigners. Stan Blackley, a spokesman for the Scottish Green Party, supported the move. He said: "We would be concerned that he would otherwise approve further GM trials next year. We have always had our doubts that he would stop them going ahead." But he claimed Finnie was motivated by a desire not to lose votes because his decision to "rubber-stamp" previous applications for trials was out of step with public opinion. Blackley added: "We have had so many food scares in the past 10 years and I think the public as a whole want assurances that what is being done to our food is not going to affect them in a strange way when they eat it." Sue Mayer, the director of Genewatch UK, which is concerned about GM testing, said: "A breathing space like this would be a useful step forward and probably do the government a great deal of good." But Kevin Dunion, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, described the new policy as "cynical" , claiming trials intended to convince the public GM crops were safe to use had been badly managed and further GM planting could lead to widespread contamination .
The GM industry, which regards health concerns as misplaced and not based on fact, has reacted with dismay to political resistance to its plans. A spokeswoman for CropGen, a GM information campaign funded by the biotech industry, condemned "the barrage of misinformation and unsupported assertions about all manner of hidden dangers" and stressed the present generation of GM foods is "safe to eat".
According to WHO (World Health Organisation), all GM foods currently used have been assessed for safety and "are not likely to present risks for human health". But exactly how sound is this evidence base? Consumers are probably right to be sceptical at present. How safe is GM food? THE LANCET, Vol 360, Number 9342, October 26, 2002

October 2002


Secret burial of GM crops / Trial crop smuggled out in covert convoy / Black farce of GM crop smuggled by night to England (editorial) – Mail on Sunday – 6/10/02

Concern over sale of Scots GM trial crop – Sunday Times – 6/10/02

Row as GM crops dumped in England – Scotsman – 7/10/02

Cover up claim over secret GM crop dumping – Press and Journal – 7/10/02

Secret GM crop burial angers protesters – Highland News – 12/10/02

Seeds of doubt – Guardian – 18/10/02

September 2002

Finnie under pressure as Scots GM trials go ahead – Sunday Herald – 1/9/02

GM trials spoil Jack’s green crusade – Daily Mail – 2/9/02

Zombies of the farm yard – Daily Mail – 4/9/02

Finnie approves trials despite rubber stamp row – Herald – 10/9/02

Go ahead for GM crop trials attacked – Press and Journal – 10/9/02

Fury over new GM crop trials – Scotsman – 10/9/02

GM health issue – Press and Journal – 11/9/02

Call for full inquiry into GM trials – Scotsman – 11/9/02

Parliament probe into GM crop health risks – Daily Mail – 12/9/02

GM crop inquiry looks at health – Scotsman – 12/9/02

MSPs launch crop trials inquiry amid safety fears / MSPs say GM crops can’t be proved safe (editorial) – Press and Journal – 12/9/02

GM crop safety probe is too late – Daily Express – 12/9/02

Bungling Finnie comes a crop-per – Scottish Daily Mirror – 12/9/02

Finnie under fire over GM crop trial – Daily Record – 12/9/02

MSPs order new GM crops health inquiry – Times – 12/9/02

Possibility of GM trials health tests – Dundee Courier – 12/9/02

Inquiry into health effects of GM crops to be launched – Herald – 12/9/02

GM crop taints Scots honey / Fields of fear / A technological sting in the tail (editorial) – Sunday Times – 15/9/02

New fear as bees spread GM crop – Daily Mail – 16/9/02

Fresh calls to end GM trials after food alert – Press and Journal – 16/9/02

GM safety in doubt after honey is tainted – Scotsman – 16/9/02

MSP praises GM protesters – Inverness Courier – 17/9/02

Fresh call for GM debate in advance of sowing for profit – Press and Journal – 18/9/02

GM crops fail on yields and profits – Herald – 18/9/02

MSP’s plea for GM safeguards – Highland News – 21/9/02

GM crops inquiry as Scots contamination is revealed – Sunday Times – 22/9/02

Genetic engineering is about profit not feeding the world – Scotsman – 23/9/02

Finnie off hook as Lib-Dem line in GM debate softened – Press and Journal – 24/9/02


GM crop taints honey two miles away, test reveals - The Sunday Times, September 15, 2002 -,,2087-416027,00.html
EVIDENCE that genetically modified (GM) crops can contaminate food supplies for miles around has been revealed in independent tests commissioned by The Sunday Times. The tests found alien GM material in honey from beehives two miles from a site where GM crops were being grown under government supervision. It is believed to have been carried there by bees gathering pollen in the GM test sites. The disclosure, showing that GM organisms can enter the food chain without consumers - or even farmers - knowing they are present, will undermine assurances by Tony Blair and ministers that such crops can be tested in Britain without contaminating the food chain. The test results come as ministers, under pressure from the American agrochemical lobby, mount a huge consultation exercise to persuade the public of the virtues of GM foods. They have previously given assurances that consumers "are not being used as guinea pigs".
The GM material was found in honey sold from farmer David Rolfe’s hives at Newport-on-Tay in Fife, almost two miles from one of 18 sites holding trials of GM oil-seed rape. A test carried out by GeneScan, a respected independent laboratory in Bremen, Germany, checked for traces of an NOS terminator, one of four modified genes which make the crop resistant to pesticides. This proved positive. A second test confirmed that GM material in the honey could have come only from oil- seed rape grown at Wester Friarton, in Newport-on-Tay, by Aventis, one of the world’s biggest biotechnology firms. The fact that the GM material travelled such a distance makes a mockery of the government’s 50m-200m crop-free "buffer" zones that were created around GM sites to protect neighbouring farms. Critics have claimed that the GM crop trial sites are too close to other farms. America has buffer zones of up to 400m, Canada up to 800m, and the European Union recommends a 5km (three-mile) zone for GM oilseed rape.
When Rolfe first raised his concerns, government officials said that although it was not possible to rule out cross-pollination, they did not believe it should be "a source of concern". "I’m very angry and disappointed," Rolfe said last week. "I feel I’ve been denied the right and freedom to eat my own GM-free produce. Now we can’t eat the honey or sell it." This weekend Defra, the ministry responsible for the crop trials, said: "We have not seen the results of the study but will treat any such findings extremely seriously."
In the case of GM rape, like most GM products, there is no evidence that contamination poses a health risk. Concern centres on maintaining the integrity of traditionally produced products. Tim Lang, professor of food policy at Thames Valley University, said: "The early assurances from the industry and the government that a buffer zone would allow safety and choice for consumers are falling apart. It raises environmental health worries, and what we don’t yet know is whether these warnings will translate into a risk to human health."
Britain has imposed a moratorium on the widespread planting of GM crops until it has analysed the impact of GM crop trials at 18 farm-scale sites around Britain.
However, The Sunday Times's tests confirm earlier work that was carried by Friends of the Earth, the environmental group, and will increase pressure on the government to scale down its support for the GM industry. It will also come as a personal setback to Blair, who is determined that British companies will win a share of the potentially lucrative bioscience industry. In May the prime minister attacked GM protesters as part of an "anti-science fashion" in Britain. The tests will bring pressure on Aventis, which was accused of a "serious breach" of regulations earlier this year after GM trials in 12 sites were contaminated with antibiotic genes. These are controversial because of the danger of gene transfer to bacteria in animals and humans, who could become immune to common life- saving antibiotics.
While the government tends to support the GM lobby, food retailers have been more cautious. The big supermarkets insist that such products are properly labelled and refuse to take honey from within six miles of UK test sites. In Canada, a leading cultivator of GM crops, sales of honey have plummeted by 50% amid concern that the integrity of the product has been compromised. A spokesmen for Aventis said: "We would be very interested in looking at both the origin of the honey sample and how the tests were carried out. We would like to look at this further."

August 2002

GM crop farmer wins mast bid (Antennae to be disguised as silo) – Ross-shire Journal – 2/8/02

Anti-GM protesters on the move to new site – Press and Journal – 5/8/02

Yurt to be re-sited – Press and Journal – 6/8/02

Farmer gives on site support to GM protesters – Herald – 8/8/02

GM vigil moves on – Ross-shire Journal – 9/8/02

GM protesters claim victory as vigil moves on – Inverness Courier – 9/8/02

Protesters claim snub – Fife Herald – 9/8/02

Intent on stopping crop trials – Dundee Courier – 9/8/02

Executive under fire over lack of GM facts – Press and Journal – 10/8/02

GM yurt on the move – Highland News – 10/8/02

GM opponents out in force – Dundee Courier – 13/8/02

GM farmer allowed to sell part of Munlochy trial crop – Press and Journal – 14/8/02

Scientists shocked at GM gene transfer – Guardian – 15/8/02

Crops protest aid – Press and Journal – 15/8/02

Munlochy GM crop harvest concern – Ross-shire Journal – 16/8/02

Ministers suspend GM crop testing – Independent – 16/8/02

GM crop trial ruined by rogue gene strain – Guardian – 16/8/02

Inquiry call after GM seed infects fields – Scotsman – 16/8/02

Contaminated seed puts Scots trials of GM crops in doubt – Press and Journal – 16/8/02

GM blunder contaminates Britain with mutant crops / Frankenstein Foods Blair’s great betrayal – Daily Mail – 16/8/02

Finnie in cover up wrap over GM crops – Scottish Sun – 16/8/02

GM activists claim party split over crop trials – Inverness Courier – 16/8/02

Rogue GM trial seed hidden for two month / Suspend GM trials (Biotech firms must put public safety first not profits) (editorial) – Herald – 16/8/02

Protesters slam GM trial delay – Highland News – 17/8/02

GMOs a growing catalogue of errors – Press and Journal – 17/8/02

Ministers seek guarantees before GM trials restart / The case for genetically modified food remains hard to stomach (editorial) – Independent – 17/8/02

Just how far has GM crop pollution spread? – Daily Mail – 17/8/02

GM crop trials spread pollen – Guardian – 19/8/02

Meacher’s scepticism on GM crops reflects shift in opinion say Greens – Independent – 20/8/02

Plan to combine GM seed in crops – Daily Mail – 20/8/02

Monsanto scales down GM hopes in Europe – Guardian – 20/8/02

Stop the GM zombies – Daily Mail – 21/8/02

GM farm debate will be a sham say experts – Daily Mail – 22/8/02

Sheridan to support GM activists in court – Press and Journal – 22/8/02

Anti-GM yurt in Ullapool – Ullapool News – 23/8/02

Finnie evades GM protesters on Black Isle visit – Scotsman – 23/8/02

Halt trials demand after GM blunder (NFU outrage at new GM twist) – Highland News – 24/8/02

Munlochy farmer quizzed over crops at trial of anti-GM campaigners – Press and Journal – 24/8/02

GM prosecution call – Scotsman – 27/8/02

Mushroom grower calls for end of GM trials – Press and Journal – 28/8/02

Delayed trial of GM seed begins soon after checks – Independent – 29/8/02

Farmer quizzed in court over controversial GM trial – Highland News – 31/8/02

Confusion over future of GM crop trials in Scotland – Press and Journal – 31/8/02

July 2002

MEP calls for reasoned GM talks – Business Scotsman – 3/7/02

New challenge to stop GM trials – Press and Journal – 4/7/02

Euro GM food plan angers America / Anger at plans for more tests – Herald – 4/7/02

Tough European line on GM labelling – Guardian – 4/7/02

European Parliament backs tougher rules for labels on GM food – Independent – 4/7/02

GM crop trial sites – Ross-shire Journal – 5/7/02

Public to have say on GM crop trials – Press and Journal – 6/7/02

Protesters destroy two GM crop fields – Herald – 8/7/02

Crop trial fields in Grampian flattened – Press and Journal – 8/7/02

No final GM crop trials at Munlochy – Press and Journal – 9/7/02

‘No more GM at Munlochy’ / Munlochy GM crop trials (editorial) – Herald – 9/7/02

GM crops can only improve the world says Black Isle farmer – Press and Journal – 11/7/02

No more GM crop trials on Black Isle fields – Inverness Courier – 12/7/02

No more GM crop trials planned for the Black Isle – Ross-shire Journal – 12/7/02

Goodbye GM / Victory at last (editorial) – North Star – 13/7/02

GM protesters in court as trial date fixed – Press and Journal – 13/7/02

GM tainted crop could end up in food chain – Press and Journal – 15/7/02

Protesters claim GM test buffer strip inadequate – Inverness Courier – 16/7/02

GM campaigners head for London – Press and Journal – 17/7/02

GM crop protesters leave for London demo – Press and Journal – 19/7/02

Scottish MP condemns Munlochy protesters – Press and Journal – 24/7/02

Bid to give the public a say on GM crops – Herald – 25/7/02

Executive announces tougher new laws, which lay ground for GM farmers / Meacher avoids GM protesters – Press and Journal – 25/7/02

GM crops dumped in London – Scotsman – 25/7/02

‘Lay-by stopping up act’ – Ross-shire Journal – 26/7/02

Beckett calls for autumn debate on GM crops – Independent – 27/7/02

Two fined for crop trial protest – Scotsman – 27/7/02

Anti-GM protesters brand trial waste of taxes / Debate announced on GM crop controversy – Press and Journal – 27/7/02

Protesters are fined £150 for damaging GM crop test site – Herald – 27/7/02

GM crop campaigners on the move – Highland News – 27/7/02


Highland GM Campaigners take message to London - PRESS RELEASE: Monday 22 July 2002
Anti-GM campaigners from across the UK will converge on DEFRA in London on Wednesday 24th July to deliver their message to the government on GM crops. The journey will begin when Highland campaigners leave from the Munlochy Vigil on Monday 22nd July at 8:30 am. Donnie MacLeod, local organic farmer who was sentenced to 21 days in prison over the GM issue, will drive a bus from the Highlands to London picking up other Scottish campaigners on the way. The Munlochy Vigil petition will be taken to London to join other messages from across the UK. The petition, with over 5000 signatures and complete cross-party political support, including Charles Kennedy, the leader of the Lib Dems, calls for an immediate halt of the field scale trials in Scotland and a full debate with a free vote in the Scottish parliament. Donnie MacLeod says "The commercialisation of GM is the greatest threat facing organic farming in the UK. In fact it could be potentially fatal to the UK organic sector. "Prince Charles spoke recently in Germany and warned of the 'acute threat to organic farming and to consumers wanting choice over what they eat'..He called for companies to be made liable for damage to the environment and warned that 'the extent of the contamination is becoming clearer and clearer'...We are carrying out this protest to highlight the threat that organic farming faces and we hope that the government listens and doesn1t bow to pressure from big business to allow commercialisation...The scenario of having GM crops planted wherever vested interests want them to is unthinkable as the damage they would cause is uncontrollable and unrecallable."
The message from all across the UK is the same: next year the government will make a decision about whether farmers can grow GM crops commercially. The people of the Highlands have made it very clear that they say NO to GM crops - GM pollution is not the solution; put these experiments back in the laboratory where they belong! What is wanted is top quality, ethically produced food that is good for the environment and poses no risk to human health. GM crops do not satisfy either of these criteria.

Munlochy vigil press release - Saturday 13 July 2002
It seems that presently the GM crop at the FSE in Munlochy is being destroyed. A tractor with a roller is slowly flattening the GM part of the field. This could well be in line with consent document 00/R33/11S, section 37: "If the trial is damaged up to seed formation it will be destroyed sufficiently in advance of maturity to minimise formation of viable seed". The farmer may have been forced to take this action. If this is the situation we welcome the removal of the GM crop. However, if it is ploughed into the soil we will have deep reservations about lack of monitoring on the soil structure in the future.

Munlochy GM crop trials - Genuine consultation in future should be ensured - The Herald (Glasgow) July 9, 2002
The Scottish Executive's decision to drop Roskill farm near Munlochy on the Black Isle as a site for genetically modified crop trials is surprising. It is politically convenient because the farm has been the scene of the most persistent and vehement protests in Scotland against GM trials. Failing to select the farm for the third and final round of experiments certainly gets the executive off the hook. But it is a surprise because Ross Finnie, the rural affairs minister, had given no indication this would happen. Indeed, his obduracy in the face of mounting protests suggested the opposite. Roskill farm had taken part in the first two trials and seemed likely to see the programme through to the bitter end. The executive said yesterday that Jamie Grant, the farmer, had not applied for a licence for the third round. Mr Grant was much more equivocal, refusing to say whether he had wanted to press on for a third year. Neither would he indicate if he was disappointed. His one comment - that he was confident every farm on the Black Isle would be growing GM crops in 40 years - probably gives a flavour of his true feelings. He might be right in his prophecy. The only way to find out if GM crops present a danger to biodiversity or turn out to be a boon to humankind (by enabling food crops to grow in famine-affected parts of the world) is to test them. That is the purpose of the executive's programme. Because it did not want to force farmers to take part, it invited them to come forward. It did not necessarily end up with the right sites. Roskill farm is a case in point. A neighbouring farmer who grows organic crops worried about contamination destroying his livelihood. There have also been concerns about a poisonous herbicide in the trials leaching into Munlochy Bay, a nature conservation area. Perhaps the biggest concern was the way local democracy was bypassed. GM crop trials do not require planning permission, so there is no need to consult the local community. When that community has legitimate concerns, but is effectively ignored, it has little option but to protest. The protesters have won the day. The outcome is the right one, even if the reasons (on the executive's part) are wrong. Mr Finnie should learn the lesson and make sure there is genuine consultation in the future. If he does not, there will be more Munlochys.

June 2002


The right to choose – Highland News (letters) – 1/6/02

GM crops no different to conventional produce study says – Herald – 1/6/02

Parliament GM adviser ‘should resign’ – Sunday Herald – 2/6/02

A growing unrest over the business of science – Herald – 3/6/02

94% of shoppers demand clearer labelling of GM foods – Daily Telegraph – 4/6/02

Blair’s talking a GM crop of sh**t – Big Issue in Scotland (letters) – 5/6/02

Fields of Gold – Guardian – 7/6/02

  GM protesters target Fife in new campaign – Scotsman – 8/6/02

Ministers prepare to sell GM to the public – Independent on Sunday – 9/6/02

Four GM protesters held after field of GM crops is destroyed – Observer – 9/6/02

Top scientists: be honest about GM/ Field studies  – Sunday Herald (letters) – 9/6/02

GM protesters arrested after Fife trial crops are trampled – Press and Journal – 10/6/02=

Protesters fear bees could spread GM pollen - Press and Journal – 13/6/02

GM crop bees – Ross-shire Journal – 14/6/02

Mystery beehives pose threat at GM trial site – Highland News – 15/6/02

Five face GM crop protest charges – Press and Journal – 15/6/02

Africa must not be dependent on aid and GM crops – Sunday Herald – 16/6/02

Call for destruction of GM trials after Belgium acts – Herald – 20/6/02

‘Pathetic’ buffer zones reopen GM debate – Scotsman – 20/6/02

GM trials impact on health to be probed – Press and Journal – 20/6/02

GM crop court focus – Ross-shire Journal – 21/6/02

Whitehall admits GM foe was ‘martyred’ – Guardian – 22/6/02

Top civil servant grilled on GM trials go ahead (Decision-maker admits in court to lack of expertise in law and farming) – Highland News – 22/6/02

Bulls’ invasion of GM crop raises new questions – Inverness Courier – 25/6/02

GM researcher claims he was victim of smears – Press and Journal – 25/6/02

Run away bulls head for sun, sex and GM food – Highland News – 29/6/02

May 2002

Trials and tribulations (Anger grows over failure to stop GM crop test in Highlands) – Guardian (Society) – 1/5/02

Councillor’s GM call – Scotsman – 2/5/02

Council distances itself from calls for GM crop direct action – Press and Journal – 2/5/02

Councillor calls for direct action on GM crop – Ross-shire Journal – 3/5/02

GM rally called off as pollen raises fears for children’s health – Inverness Courier – 3/5/02

Euro rules prevent me scrapping Munlochy GM trials – Finnie – Press and Journal – 3/5/02

GM martyr has no regrets / Call to end GM risk – North Star – 4/5/02

Five deny vandalising Black Isle GM crops – Press and Journal – 4/5/02

Scottish GM crops stance challenged – Scotland on Sunday – 5/5/02

SNP backs GM protest – Sunday Post – 5/5/02

Minister attacked over claims the public was misled on GM trials – Press and Journal – 6/5/02

Trade war fear as public resists GM food – Guardian – 7/5/02

Mayhem as protesters target GM crop field – Press and Journal – 7/5/02

Finnie had power to stop GM trials say protesters – Herald – 7/5/02

Home is a tent for eco-war general (GM crop protest leader directs activists from Mongolian yurt next to a test field of oilseed rape on the Black Isle) / PM is urged to defy Bush on food labels / editorial – Folly of GM crop trials – Herald – 8/5/02

Three men in court after biggest GM crop protest – Scotsman – 8/5/02

Green war fought on Highland battlefield – Times – 9/5/02

More flak for Finnie as he sticks to GM line – Press and Journal – 9/5/02

Finnie is unmoved by GM protests – Herald – 9/5/02

If the political power is there – then why not use it to bring about change / Trashed oilseed rape fields will not affect trial, says GM firm – Inverness Courier – 10/5/02

Rebellion in our midst – Ross-shire Journal – 10/5/02

Four appear on GM crop damage charges – Press and Journal – 10/5/02

May Day GM protest – Highland News – 11/5/02

Council to debate GM crop site complaints – Press and Journal – 11/5/02

Black Isle reaps the wrath of the seeds of discontent / Setting the record straight on GM crops in Scotland (letter) – Herald – 11/5/02

Beside the field of nightmares – Sunday Times (Ecosse) – 12/5/02

Why GM crop trials should be halted – Herald (letters) – 13/5/02

Finnie rules out following Welsh example on GM crops – Inverness Courier - 14/5/02

The battle of the Black Isle – Scotsman S2 – 14/5/02

Complainer named as GM farmer – Press and Journal – 15/5/02

Aventis moves to stop release of pesticide details – Financial Times – 16/5/02

MSPs vote on GM crops ‘abandoning democracy’ – Press and Journal – 16/5/02

People from all walks of life supporting GM vigil – Scotsman (letters) – 16/5/02

Farmer’s threat over GM ‘anarchy’ – Herald – 17/5/02

Council asks MSPs to pay for GM site policing cost – Press and Journal – 17/5/02

GM farmer lashes out at council (And councillor rages back) – Ross-shire Journal – 17/5/02

Finnie is accused of washing his hands on GM – Inverness Courier – 17/5/02

Protesters action is anarchy - claim  – Highland News – 18/5/02

Legal block on GM food to be axed (Outrage at Labour gag on protests) – Sunday Herald – 19/5/02

New gag on challenges to GM crops – Independent on Sunday – 19/5/02

We won’t be beaten by ‘GM wreckers’ says Blair – Daily Mail – 21/5/02

Blair defends GM development – Scotsman – 23/5/02

Anti-GM protesters come unstuck – Press and Journal – 23/5/02

PM warns against stifling GM debate – Press and Journal – 24/5/02

More damage to GM crops – Ross-shire Journal – 24/5/02

Mile of silent protesters – Highland News - 25/5/02

GM threat to organic farming – Independent on Sunday – 26/5/02

Biotech minister made £20 million out of GM food – Scottish Mail on Sunday – 26/5/02

Why Scotland’s environment minister loves GM foods so much he’s prepared to risk his career by supporting them – Sunday Herald – 26/5/02

Protesters keep vigil to protect future – Daily Express – 27/5/02

Hundreds in silent protest against GM trials – Press and Journal – 27/5/02

Silent protest in GM fields – Scotsman – 27/5/02

GM crop trial – Holyrood Magazine letter – 27/5/02

GM issue requires open and informed debate – Scotsman (letters) – 28/5/02

Moratorium call over GM crop trials – Press and Journal – 28/5/02

SNP in clash over ruling which might block GM trials – Press and Journal – 30/5/02

GM moratorium urged – Herald – 30/5/02

Macmillan attacks SNP on GM crops – Press and Journal – 31/5/02


A debate in the Scottish Parliament was held on 29th May 2002



GM demonstrators plan silent protest next to Highlands trial site - 20 May 2002 -
A MILE-LONG silent procession protesting against genetically-modified crops is to be staged next to the site of a controversial farm trial in the Highlands. The event, at Roskill Farm in the Black Isle, is proposed as a peaceful demonstration following recent direct action on the field which has seen 17 people arrested in three incidents. One protest earlier this month involved about 100 people when damage was caused to the crops with sickles, hand-made tools and bare hands, and a vehicle also driven into a field. Jamie Grant, the farmer and owner of the crops, described the incident as an "unforgivable display of anarchy" and the Northern Constabulary condemned protesters whose cars blocked routes which may have been needed by emergency vehicles. Police have raised concerns about the latest event, planned for Sunday, but have not formally objected to it going ahead. Highland Council has given permission on certain conditions relating to public and traffic safety. These include organisers having at least 12 stewards on site to deal with traffic management and crowd control. Adverts for the procession declare: "We have a vision of a mile of people standing quiet to be heard. This is a Scottish cultural event, not direct action on the field. We ask all who come to respect this opportunity for legal, non-violent demonstration."
One of the event organisers, Auriol de Smidt, who lives within the Findhorn Foundation, said: "We have been hearing of people attacking the field and pulling up the crops. While we are in sympathy with the motives behind it, we felt we needed something different and to voice our protests in a different way." She added: "There is always a risk of that, but we are not expecting it and we will bring marshals to support the police. I am relying on the goodwill of people to maintain that and I am sure there is a lot of goodwill out there...It will be controlled and anyone stepping out of line will be very noticeable so there should be less concern about someone acting illegally under our banner."
Superintendent David Connor, Northern Constabulary’s area commander, said: "We have some concerns in terms of roads safety and public safety and have discussed these fully with Highland Council...But we have not objected and will police the event. Hopefully it will be peaceful. Any person who commits a breach of the peace or any act of damage is liable to be charged and arrested."
Last week, Highland Council toughened its stance against GM crops, calling for a halt to the trials until a national debate is held on the issue. It is also to call for the Scottish Executive to pay for the cost of protecting the farm-scale evaluations and will investigate whether the authority has any investments with GM companies.

Housewife destroyed GM crops - The Scotsman, 21 May 2002
A HOUSEWIFE has been convicted of maliciously destroying thousands of pounds worth of genetically modified crops in Aberdeenshire. Helena Beveridge admitted destroying a field full of plants involved in scientific trials. But she lodged a special defence of necessity, insisting she destroyed the GM site for the good of the public and the environment. On 29 May last year, Beveridge, 36, of Aberdeen, headed to New Craig Farm in Oldmeldrum, dressed in a protective suit and wearing gloves. Police had heard of the planned protest and told the farmer, Shirley Harrison. Mrs Harrison told the court: "Someone had just yanked the plants out, some had been cut up and others were rolled over...The field looked like something had sat or rolled over it."
The field was planted next to a non-GM oil seed rape field at New Craig Farm in a trial by the Scottish Crop Research Institute and Scottish Agricultural Science Agency to assess the effect of cross-pollination. Dr Geoffrey Squire, a research scientist for the institute, said: "There was a reasonable amount of damage particularly around the site where we had been measuring for cross-pollination. The damage completely invalidated the trial." He estimated damage at £4,000.
Sheriff Craig McSherry found Beveridge guilty and deferred sentence until next month. Afterwards, she said: "I think it is bizarre that my husband, Alastair, can do the exact same thing with Greenpeace activists in Norwich and be acquitted, yet I am guilty." [yes, but Alistair had a jury!]

Folly of GM crop trials - Executive is paying heavily for its lack of consultation - The Herald (Glasgow) May 8, 2002
The bucolic Black Isle is not the sort of place that would normally be considered a hot spot of protest. But that is what it has become thanks to the Scottish Executive's decision to continue with genetically modified crop trials at Roskill Farm near Munlochy. It is not just Highland Council that is angry about the way local democracy has been by-passed. A growing number of protesters against the site feel the same way. The executive has conveniently classified GM crop trials as agricultural endeavours, which do not need planning permission. As there is no planning requirement, there is no need to consult the local community.
Ross Finnie, the rural affairs minister, has granted two consecutive GM trial licences at Munlochy, without any local consultation. The council has avoided taking sides in the GM biotechnology debate. Its concerns are about local accountability and consultation. The trials are intended to assess the impact of GM crops on neighbouring, non-GM ones and the effect on wildlife in both. A neighbouring farmer grows organic crops. These crops must remain uncontaminated to maintain their certification. If they become contaminated (which must be a real risk, given the proximity of the GM crops) livelihoods would be lost. If local concerns had been listened to in advance (as happens with housing developments, for instance) the executive would have had no excuse for being unaware about such a high-risk potential outcome. Did it really want to gamble in that way? Probably not. The gamble was a consequence of the executive not wanting to force farmers to take part in the trials. It invited them to come forward. But, as a consequence, it does not necessarily end up with the right sites. That seems to be the case at Munlochy. The tests have been extended to gauge the resistance of the oilseed rape to a poisonous herbicide that, theoretically, destroys weeds but not the crop. These tests have to be held "in the field" to work. They have been happening, but there are concerns that the herbicide could leach into Munlochy Bay, a nature conservation area for wildlife and plants. Rightly, campaigners want to know if Mr Finnie has done his homework before granting licences for the crops and extending the herbicide trials. But they have been repeatedly stonewalled.
The protest, which seems to be gathering momentum by the day, is an indication of just how badly the executive has handled the case for GM crop trials. GM crops might present a danger to biodiversity, or they might turn out to be a great benefit to humankind by enabling sturdy food crops to grow in famine-affected parts of the world. We will not know without rigorously-conducted, properly-controlled scientific research. The Munlochy trials demonstrate the critical importance of safeguards to reassure local communities that the experiments are safe; and the folly of failing to listen to local concerns or respond adequately to them. The executive is paying a heavy price for that failure. Mr Finnie has fallen back on the excuse that he cannot scrap the trials because it would be illegal under European laws. That is what he told his own Liberal Democrat party conference some three weeks ago (it voted to stop the trials) and, days before that, the Scottish parliament's transport and environment committee (it urged the executive to plough up the Munlochy oilseed rape, also because of potential environmental harm). But it does not seem to need scientific evidence of harm to stop the trials. The toughest sanction he might apparently face would be a civil action for breach of contract; hardly condign punishment. The Welsh Assembly, which has fewer powers than the Holyrood parliament, has refused to permit GM crop trials because of the possible environmental risk, and has done so apparently with Westminster's consent. If Scotland is to continue as a test ground for GM crops, Mr Finnie will have to open his mind to the potential risks, particularly in areas that really should not have been accepted for the trials in the first place.

Home is a tent for eco-war general - GM crop protest leader directs activists from Mongolian yurt next to a test field of oil-seed rape on the Black Isle - David Ross Highland Correspondent - The Herald (Glasgow) May 8, 2002
HIS living room is a Mongolian tent, or yurt, on the Black Isle. But from this unlikely Highland base, Anthony Jackson has been leading the battle against genetically-modified crops. His eight-and-a-half month vigil next to a field of GM oilseed rape near Munlochy has become the focus of Scotland's most concerted eco-campaign. Today, Mr Jackson will leave behind his tent and travel to Edinburgh, where he will watch as opposition politicians grill Ross Finnie, the environment minister, on his much-criticised management of Scotland's GM trials. Mr Jackson's trip south follows an escalation of activity against the crop trial, with three more protesters arrested, as part of direct action that has already seen one man sent to prison. Mr Jackson has always kept his and the vigil's distance from those prepared to take direct action against the crops, but he understands their frustration. He said: "Perfectly law- biding people are being driven to this out of sheer frustration because the democratic system is failing them. We have a minister who simply will hear nothing but what his officials tell him....The Highland Council and the transport and environment committee have both called on Mr Finnie to revoke his consent, as has local opinion here, over and over again...But he claims he has no power to act and to do so would be illegal. He is wrong. The Environmental Protection Act is very clear. Mr Finnie has the power to revoke his consent for the trial at any time without scientific evidence. It is only with crops that are grown commercially that you then have to invoke article 16, which does need scientific evidence of harm. But that is exactly what the Belgian government has just done. So why can't Mr Finnie?"
It is eight years since Mr Jackson arrived in the Highlands from the Black Country in the Midlands, and eight and a half months since the 29-year-old former conservation worker took up residence at the side of the road across from the crop at Roskill Farm near Munlochy. A caravan, the tent, and a Portaloo have been his domain ever since. He shares them with others as part of the wider protest against Mr Finnie's decision last summer to grant, for the second year running without local consultation, a licence for the Munlochy GM trial. Yesterday, at Dingwall Sheriff Court, three other campaigners pled not guilty to vandalising the controversial crop. They were released on bail on condition they do not return to the field, and will stand trial in July. A total of 24 have now been arrested and charged, 13 in the last 10 days, but Monday night saw one of the biggest demonstrations yet. At about 6.30pm, 30 to 40 vehicles arrived at the test site, some blocked the approach roads while around 100 protesters emerged. A man wearing a Tony Blair mask drove a Land Rover with a long, heavy metal bar attached, up and down a long stretch of the 100-acre field, destroying a stretch of the crop alongside the road. According to eye-witnesses, nearly half of those present joined in the action, using sickles, sticks and their bare hands to cut and pull the flowering rape plants. After about three-quarters of an hour the protesters left the field again as police arrived to clear the area. Mr Jackson insisted yesterday: "We knew nothing about it. The first we knew was when the Land Rover arrived and went on the field."
He points to the government's defence in Europe of the Welsh Assembly's refusal to allow GM crop trials because the assembly believed they posed an environmental risk. The executive, however, was still not persuaded yesterday. A spokesman said: "We remain of the position that we can only halt farm scale trials on the basis of sound scientific evidence that demonstrates harm to human health or the environment. No such evidence currently exists and it would be illegal for us to halt trials."  Whatever happens, Mr Jackson will be back in his yurt tonight where he expects to remain at least until August when planning permission for the vigil runs out.
Nationwide campaign
Three main Scottish sites, at Munlochy in the Black Isle, Daviot in Aberdeenshire, and Newport-on-Tay in Fife, have been chosen to grow GM oilseed rape as part of a farm-scale evaluation programme which is in its third and final year of planting. The results will be used to make informed decisions on whether GM crops have a commercial future in this country, according to Ross Finnie, environment and rural development minister. An anti-GM petition, signed by more than 4000 people, has been delivered to the Scottish Parliament. In total, 24 people have been arrested at Munlochy and charged with vandalising the crop since the trials began. Experts claim the trials pose no risk to health or the environment. However, Charles Saunders, chairman of the British Medical Association's public health committee, recently called for an end to GM trials until scientists could prove they were safe.

Scottish GM crops stance challenged - Scotland on Sunday, 5 May 2002
THE Scottish Executive’s case against banning Genetically Modified crop trials was "in tatters" last night, according to green campaigners, after Belgium blocked a trial amid fears it could damage surrounding plant life. Friends of the Earth Scotland said the case showed that rural development minister Ross Finnie had the power to ban similar experiments in Scotland, a power he claims he does not hold. FoE revealed that Belgium's new environment minister Magda Aelvoet had invoked the "precautionary principle" to block five field trials of GM oilseed rape. She ruled that it was "impossible" to stop them leaking genetically modified material into the environment, despite strict measures designed to protect surrounding wildlife. Aelvoet warned GM developers that she will introduce a change in her government’s policy on the issue, with future trials subject to much tougher rules. FoE Scotland is now calling on Finnie to follow suit. Kevin Dunion, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "The new minister has said the precautionary principle can be used to rule that any GM crop which will flower can be stopped. In Scotland that means oilseed rape at least. "The issue here is the degree to which the safeguards we have in place are sufficient to stop cross-contamination...The Belgians have used existing legislation to protect their environment, so we would like to see Ross Finnie grasp the nettle and do the same."
Finnie insists, however, that European Union regulations prevented him halting the GM crop trials without a watertight scientific justification. A spokesman for Finnie last night claimed the Belgian decision made no difference to the minister’s position. "It is important to remember that the Belgian minister will probably be acting on formal scientific evidence relating specifically to the trials in that country," he said. "That evidence will not have a bearing on the trials in Scotland...It is all done under the same rules. It’s not as though we have woken up and all the rules governing this have changed."

SNP leader's GM visit - - BBC News, Saturday, 4 May, 2002
Scottish National Party leader John Swinney has visited the site of a GM crop trial near Inverness which is being targeted continually by protesters. He urged the Scottish Executive to abandon the oilseed rape experiment at Munlochy on the Black Isle and destroy the plants. Five people appeared at Dingwall Sheriff Court on Friday charged with vandalism after being arrested at the site. They denied the charges and are due to go on trial in July. Mr Swinney intended his visit to the site to put pressure on the Environment Minister Ross Finnie. Mr Finnie's own Liberal Democrat party believes the crops could be dangerous to local people. But the minister has already dismissed the idea of destroying the crops. He believes such a move would be illegal under European law.
Lib Dems' line
At his party's conference last month, Lib Dem delegates voted two-to-one against the trial continuing. Following the latest arrests, Dr Eleanor Scott, of the Scottish Green Party, said many people had devoted a large part of the past year to keeping the Highlands GM-free. If the executive continued to ignore them, she said, more direct action was inevitable. Five demonstrators appeared in the same court on Monday and admitted destroying oilseed rape GM crops at the farm. The attack on the oilseed rape at a farm near Inverness on 26 April was the second such incident in less than a week.

Councillor’s GM call - The Scotsman, 2 May 2002 -
A SENIOR councillor has called for a genetically modified crop to be totally destroyed in an organised day of direct action. Police were last night in talks with the procurator-fiscal [prosecutor] and leaders of Highland Council following the remarks by Dr Michael Foxley, a Lochaber GP and the chairman of the council’s land and environment committee. Dr Foxley said he was not concerned he could possibly face criminal charges. Superintendent David O’Connor, of Northern Constabulary, said: "We have noted the comments Dr Foxley has made, and we are consulting with the procurator-fiscal and also having discussions with the Highland Council."

Trials and tribulations - Anger grows over failure to stop GM crop test in Highlands - The Guardian (Society Guardian), Wednesday May 1, 2002,7843,707634,00.html
In the big field above the small Easter Ross village of Munlochy, in the Scottish Highlands, small yellow flowers have started to appear. In a matter of weeks, villagers expect to find a thick layer of pollen coating windowsills and car roofs, as happened last year. Munlochy is the site of one of the UK's biggest GM crop trials ˇ 15 hectares of oil seed rape, an experiment that has roused a community and split Scotland's parliament. Last week, under cover of darkness, someone entered the field at Roskill Farm and ripped out some five acres of plants. And on Saturday, five people were arrested after tearing up more plants. A spokesman for Scottish GM protesters says the movement has been forced to take matters into its own hands. "The Scottish executive has ignored our plea not to endanger the economy of the Highlands, with its reputation for pure and natural food production," says the spokesman. "They have taken no heed of the growing body of scientific evidence of the unpredictable and irreversible risks of GM crops. So we have taken responsibility for our own safety and environment." The damage was done just days after Holyrood's transport and environment committee had called on the Scottish executive to have the crop trial ploughed up. It voted 5-4 in favour of a recommendation that the trial could harm the environment and the food chain. But the call was ignored by the rural redevelopment minister, Ross Finnie, a Liberal Democrat, who has held to the line that there is no new evidence the trial poses any harm and that he is bound by a European directive to allow the test to continue. But he is becoming increasingly isolated in his stance. On the same weekend protesters were destroying parts of the crop, the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference voted 2-1 to end the trial. The party's UK leader, Charles Kennedy, is one of 4,000 people to have signed a petition calling for a halt to the experimen. And this week, in the Scottish parliament, a Lib Dem colleague of Finnie's will lodge a private member's bill that would make it illegal to grow GM crops in Scotland.
Last Thursday, the Scottish National Party joined Holyrood's only Green MSP, Robin Harper, in his fight to persuade the executive to back down. Harper says: "I am no longer a lone voice in the parliament. We have got to keep pressing on this. The executive has the power to plough the crop in, and we have the evidence that should persuade them this is the best thing to do." That evidence centres on a new European environment agency report, which Harper says warns of a high risk that growing GM oilseed rape will result in genetic contamination between different varieties of GM plants, and between GM plants and their wild relatives. And a study from New Zealand, he says, concluded there should be no further development or field-testing of GM organisms because of uncertainties about the risk they present. But Finnie insists that, having received advice from the UK advisory committee on releases to the environment (Acre), the executive was bound by law to allow continuation of the trial - although Acre pointed out at the weekend that Finnie is not bound by its advice. "The Scottish executive will not take risks with the health of Scotland's people or with its environment, and it would be irresponsible for it to ignore the unequivocal assurances of our expert advisers and withhold consent on the basis of doubts or concerns which are not supported by the evidence," he says.
Up at Munlochy, protesters have been mounting a vigil for almost 10 months at the site, which was first earmarked for GM trials by the seed company Aventis in 2000. Campaigner Anthony Jackson says Finnie's excuses don't wash and that, under the Environment Protection Act of 1990, he has the ability to revoke consent. He says: "The minister has been told to act by a parliamentary committee, his own party has voted to stop this, and he has the powers to do so. What more does he need?"

April 2002


Minister gets GM challenge – Press and Journal – 4/4/02

Munlochy Vigil demands an end to GM farming – Socialist Voice – 5/4/02

EU Commissioner invited vigil site – Ross-shire Journal – 5/4/02

Scientist claims vendetta over GM research – Herald – 5/4/02

Finnie comes under pressure on GM trials – Highland News – 6/4/02

Call for GM trial halt in wake of new study – Inverness Courier – 9/4/02

Cabinet split over public consultation on GM crop boost – Independent – 13/4/02

Holyrood call over GM crop trials – Press and Journal – 16/4/02

Blow to Executive as MSPs vote to halt crops trial – Herald – 18/4/02

Call for scrapping of GM crop trial – Scotsman – 18/4/02

MSPs back call to scrap GM trial – Business Scotsman – 18/4/02

Destroy GM crops MSPs urge Finnie – Press and Journal – 18/4/02

Vigil team’s anger over Finnie’s stance on GM – Highland News – 20/4/02

Lib-Dems tell Finnie: stop GM crop trials – Press and Journal – 20/4/02

Finnie to defy Lib-Dem’s GM ban – Sunday Herald – 21/4/02

Highland protesters rip out one million GM plants – Press and Journal – 22/4/02

Frustration grows as GM crop is damaged yet again – Herald - 22/4/02

Damaged crop field revisits legal and political row over GM issue – Scotsman – 22/4/02

GM protesters celebrate ‘incredible’ year – Press and Journal – 23/4/02

Crop trash protesters pledge on more action – Inverness Courier – 23/4/02

Washing his hands – Guardian (Society) – 24/4/02

Last gasp attempt to halt GM trial – Press and Journal – 25/4/02

Lib-Dems claim Finnie is rethinking GM stand – 26/4/02

Wallace rejects calls for GM trials to be scrapped – Press and Journal – 26/4/02

Wallace rejects Swinney’s call for moratorium on GM crop trials – Herald – 26/4/02

Uprooting plants – Press and Journal (letters) – 27/4/02

Hunger to identify the food chain of command – Scotland on Sunday – 28/4/02

Revealed: Finnie does have power to stop GM trials – Sunday Herald – 28/4/02

Five held after GM crops damaged – Sunday Post – 28/4/02

Cops swoop as GM crop is wrecked – News of the World – 28/4/02

Five protesters held after second attack on GM crops at trial farm – Observer – 28/4/02

GM crops attacked – Sunday Mirror – 28/4/02

Protesters renew attack on GM crop – Herald – 29/4/02

Protesters raid at test site destroys GM crops – Scotsman – 29/4/02

Five charged as GM crop field is damaged – Daily Telegraph – 29/4/02

North GM protesters vent anger at arrests – Press and Journal – 29/4/02

Protesters admit trashing GM trial crop – Inverness Courier – 30/4/02

GM crop vandals inflamed by Scot’s ministers – Times – 30/4/02

GM crops decision may cause rural conflict – Financial Times – 30/402

Highland’s Council in renewed plea to halt GM testing – Herald – 30/4/02

Woman with MBE among crop protesters in court – Press and Journal – 30/4/02

Revealed: Finnie does have power to stop GM trials - Sunday Herald, 28 April 2002
Repeated claims by Ross Finnie, the LibDem environment and rural development minister, that he has no power to stop trials of genetically modified crops are bogus, according to government advisers, lawyers and Liberal Democrats. An investigation by the Sunday Herald has uncovered damning evidence from the Welsh Assembly, Westminster and a government commission that Finnie could reject GM if he wanted to. But the minister, backed by the deputy first minister and fellow LibDem, Jim Wallace, has so far fiercely insisted that the law prevents him from doing so. The Welsh assembly, with the enthusiastic support of liberal democrats, has successfully banned GM crops in Wales. And its right to do so under European law has been defended by the UK government. The Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission, a group of experts which advises the government on GM, has said that the trials should only be completed if local communities were fully consulted. Yet at the most bitterly contested site in Scotland -- Munlochy in Ross-shire -- there has been no such consultation. Pressure has been mounting on Finnie since the Scottish Parliament's Transport and Environment Committee voted 10 days ago to call for an end to GM crop trials. That was followed by a two-to-one vote against the trials at the LibDem conference in Perth . But Finnie rejected both calls by quoting the legal advice he had been given by Scottish Executive civil servants. 'Under existing law, a moratorium or refusal to grant deliberate release consent would be illegal unless based on sound scientific evidence of potential harm,' he said. But when the Welsh Assembly went through this argument, it received a legal opinion that an anti-GM policy would be legal if worded correctly. London barristers, Michael Fordham and Kate Gallafent, concluded in 2000 that a policy not to grant consent unless there was sufficient information to prove that GM releases were safe 'would be lawful'. 'I cannot see any reason why the Scottish Executive could not adopt precisely the same policy,' said Peter Roderick, an environmental lawyer who worked with the Welsh assembly.
The Assembly's position has been backed by the UK government in documents submitted to the European Commission, and seen by the Sunday Herald. Westminster argued that the Assembly can ban GM crops under article 16 of the European GM directive as long as it has 'justifiable reasons'. 'There is clear legal opinion that Ross Finnie and Jim Wallace have the power to halt the trials and to suggest otherwise is either misinformed or duplicitous. It is simply not acceptable that they continue using these bogus excuses,' said the Green MSP Robin Harper. He pointed out that ministers only used European environmental law in their defence when it suited them. As the Sunday Herald revealed last September, they seemed content to flout 19 other European directives on pollution, waste and wildlife.
In September last year, the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission said that GM crop trials should only be completed if there was 'effective local consultation' involving local stakeholders. But campaigners pointed out that there has been no effective consultation at the sites selected for growing GM oil seed rape at Munlochy, Newport on Tay in Fife, and Daviot and Oldmeldrum in Aberdeenshire. At Munlochy, where there has been a mounting series of protests, five people were arrested yesterday for ripping up GM rape plants before they flower and spread their seed. 'The Welsh Assembly has halted trials and has not broken the law and the EU directive specifically enables countries to take their own decision on this matter. Clearly Finnie can do this without breaking the law -- to pretend otherwise is the flimsiest of excuses,' argued Jo Hunt, of Highlands and Islands GM Concern. Even the experts on whom Finnie has relied -- the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) -- have themselves pointed out he is not bound by their advice. 'Ministers are not obliged to take Acre's advice,' it said.
Finnie will face more embarrassment from his own party this week when the LibDem MSP for Ross, Skye and Inverness West, John Farquhar Munro, lodges an anti-GM private members bill in the Scottish Parliament. The bill would make it illegal to grow GM crops in Scotland without obtaining insurance. But as the Sunday Herald disclosed last month, no insurance company is prepared to provide cover because the risks are unknown. The effect of Munro's bill, therefore, would be to outlaw GM crops.


GM crops decision may cause rural conflict - Financial Times - April 30, 2002,
Conflict could erupt in rural communities if the government mishandled the decision on whether to approve the cultivation of genetically modified crops, ministers have been warned. Professor Malcolm Grant, chairman of the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission, the government's watchdog on GM technology, said further public debate on the issue was vital if confrontation were to be avoided. "The potential is there for rural conflict, which is why this is about more than food safety," said Prof Grant. The commission yesterday submitted proposals to ministers for a country-wide debate to obtain a more exact picture of public feeling over GM crops and raise people's awareness of the complex issues involved. The proposals include making a film to be shown in village halls, parish councils, schools, museums and science festivals. Field trials to discover the environmental impact of GM crops end this autumn, after which ministers must decide if and how the technology should be used. The trials had already shown the possibility for conflict between farmers and within rural communities, and this could increase, Prof Grant said. However, with public opinion polarised and with different views within the government, there was no consensus on the way ahead. "It is not an issue in which a heavy-handed response either way is likely to win ministers friends. The government has to listen and be seen to be listening," he said. The government was in two minds, he said. "On the one hand there is the strong view that biotechnology is potentially an important contributor to the economic health of the UK...On the other hand are concerns about adverse consumer reaction and potential environmental impacts." At the heart of the issue is whether any framework can be devised that could allow GM planting but did not undermine the viability of organic and other non-GM farming. Separation distances, aimed at reducing the spread of GM seed, have proved contentious during trials and would be even more difficult to manage if approval were given to GM crops. Separation is vital but the land lost to production could affect the viability of both GM and non-GM food producers.

Highlands Council in renewed plea to halt GM testing - The Herald, Glasgow, 30th April 2002
THE strongest plea yet for a halt to be called to GM testing comes as five campaigners yesterday pled guilty at Dingwall Sheriff Court to vandalising crops on the Black Isle at the weekend. Highlands and Islands Council asked the question of Ross Finnie, rural development minister, who insists he has neither the power nor reason to intervene. But the council believes that not only does he have the power, he has recently been given a good reason by the government's own advisers. David Green, the council convener, said the arguments for halting the controversial trial at Munlochy on the Black Isle were becoming "overwhelming". He called on Mr Finnie to use his clear powers under the Environmental Protection Act (1990) to bring the experiment to an end because of the lack of independent scientific research into the risks of GM technology. Mr Green said: "This is the latest in a succession of compelling reasons why the minister must end the trials...Initially, the concern was that the executive did not adequately inform or consult with the local community about the issues...This was compounded by the executive failing to fully take on board the independent advice of the Agriculture Environment and Biotechnology Commission, that further data must be gathered and a full public debate take place before commercial GM crop growing can be considered...Now there is this further concern expressed at the scientific research carried out by the government's watchdogs, the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (Acre)."
Councillor David Alston, Black Isle North, said: "Mr Finnie claims that his hands are tied because there is no scientific evidence that the trials pose any threat to health or to the environment..The government rely on advice from Acre but it has now emerged that safety tests on genetically modified maize currently growing in Britain were flawed...Lord Alan Gray, Acre's chairman, has admitted he believes the research should have been re-analysed and that safety tests were not good enough to give a true picture of the risks  involved. The value of Acre's advice and the methods they use must be re-assessed. Only if adequate research has been completed can we be confident that there are no risks."
Meanwhile, at Dingwall, five anti-GM campaigners had sentence deferred for six months for good behaviour and were banned from going within 100 metres of the crop field. Among them was Iona Henderson, who was made MBE in the New Year honours list for services to animal welfare by running a sanctuary at Munlochy. She had marked her 47th birthday at the weekend by joining other campaigners armed with sticks and sickles taking part in the protest, and then being remanded in custody for two days until her court appearance yesterday. Also appearing from custody were Simon Cann, 21, of Lady's Walk, Inverness, Gillian Williamson, 46, of Strathpeffer, Rory McEwan, 40, of Oban, and Tom McCaig, 21, of Bonawe, Argyll. Honorary Sheriff David Neill said the five had crossed the line between peaceful and non-peaceful protest, but the court recognised their motives in doing so.

Third attack on GM crop site - BBC news, Sunday, 28 April, 2002 
Crop trials have sparked fierce debate in Scotland. A field of genetically modified crops in Scotland has been damaged by protesters for the third time in a week. The latest attack at the controversial trial site at Munlochy in the Highlands happened between 0400 BST and 0800 BST on Sunday, police said. It came less than 24 hours after five demonstrators were arrested on vandalism charges during an alleged breach of the peace at the same trial site. Campaigners say more than half of the GM oilseed rape crop has now been destroyed. The field at Roskill Farm on the Black Isle was also attacked between Saturday night and Sunday morning the previous weekend. Five acres of the crop were damaged on that occasion and police inquiries are still continuing. After the latest attack, the protesters said in a statement: "We have been forced to take responsibility for protecting the health and environment of our own community by the only course of action now open to us...Our action was peaceful and nobody was injured...That people are more afraid of GM crops than of being arrested by the police speaks for itself."
'Live laboratory'
The five demonstrators arrested after the second attack are due to appear at Dingwall Sheriff Court on Monday. A police spokesman said three of those arrested were men, aged 21, 31 and 40 and the remaining two were women, aged 46 and 47. The Scottish Executive has refused to ban GM trials, saying it would be contravening European law if it did so. But Scottish National Party Leader John Swinney has accused ministers of treating Scotland as a "live laboratory" by permitting the field trials. He cast doubt over the Executive's arguments that ministers had no legal grounds for banning the trials, during First Minister's Questions last week.

The farm has been attacked twice in a week - BBC News - Scotland - UK, 27th April
Five people have been arrested after a field of genetically modified crops was damaged for the second time in a week. Northern Constabulary said the five were arrested on breach of the peace and vandalism charges after damage to crops at Roskill Farm on the Black Isle. The field of GM oilseed rape was also attacked last weekend, between Saturday night and Sunday morning. About five acres of the crop were damaged on that occasion and police enquiries are still continuing. Northern Constabulary gave no further details of the five individuals arrested in the latest incident and said a report had been submitted to the procurator fiscal.
The issue of the safety of GM crops has continued to provoke fierce debate in Scotland. Scottish National Party Leader John Swinney accused ministers of treating Scotland as a "live laboratory" during First Minister's Questions this week by permitting the field trials. He cast doubt over Scottish Executive arguments that ministers have no legal grounds for banning the trials. However, Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace insisted scientific advisers said there was no risk. Political commentators viewed the exchange as awkward for Mr Wallace, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader.
'Legal grounds'
His party called for a moratorium on GM crops at their annual conference last weekend. Delegates voted for a halt on trials despite being told by Ross Finnie, the Liberal Democrat rural affairs minister, that he had no legal powers to do this. Mr Wallace told Mr Swinney at Holyrood that both the Liberal Democrats and the executive wanted a moratorium on the commercialisation of GM crops. He added: "But as Mr Swinney knows, field trials would be illegal for ministers to prohibit unless there were particular legal grounds for doing so." Green MSP Robin Harper asked the deputy first minister to explain the executive's definition of risk in relation to the trials. The list MSP for Lothians said local people in the Black Isle were worried because the GM crops had begun to flower and produce pollen. Mr Wallace said officials had advised ministers that there was no threat to human health or the environment which forced the executive to permit the field trials.

Frustration grows as GM crop is damaged yet again - THE GLASGOW HERALD, April 22nd -
A controversial trial crop of genetically-modified oil seed rape in the Highlands has been vandalised again, days after a Scottish parliamentary committee called for it to be ploughed up. Police said about five acres of the plant were destroyed overnight at Tulloch farm near Munlochy in Easter Ross. Protesters said the act reflected the high level of public frustration in the area over the issue and claimed the poor handling of the issue by Ross Finnie, the environment minister, was largely to blame. The damage follows a demand from MSPs on the transport and environment committee for the crop trial, which had just started to flower, to be destroyed. Robin Harper, the Green MSP, won vital cross-party support in a five-to-four vote, with MSPs warning that it could cross-pollinate with non-GM crops and enter the food chain. They asked for the trial to end, despite written assurances from Mr Finnie that there was no new evidence of a hazard to health from Munlochy or the other trials in Grampian and Fife. Mr Harper said he had sympathy with people's fears and frustrations, but felt dismayed about the action taken. "I was hoping to take things forward politically and we have been assembling a fairly strong case for Ross Finnie to order the destruction of the crop because of considerable fears over the environmental consequences....I'm very dismayed that people have trampled the crop but have sympathy with their fears."
A total of 4000 protesters in the Black Isle had earlier handed a petition to the committee expressing their opposition to the crop trial. Kenny Taylor, chairman of Highlands and Islands GM Concern, said: "This reflects the sheer extent of public frustration over the process that has led us into this mess whereby we have got this unwanted pollution in Scotland...For something like this to happen is not entirely unexpected. I would actually lay some of the responsibility for that at the door of people like Ross Finnie, who has handled this matter in such an unsatisfactory way over the last 18 months." Anthony Jackson, of the Munlochy Vigil, which has also campaigned against the oil seed rape trial, said the group had no knowledge of the incident. He said: "We have no plans for direct action. We are heavily involved in the political process and that is the way we will continue to operate." Mr Jackson added: "An action like that needn't happen because Mr Finnie has the power to pull any trial in Scotland at any time. He should listen to his own party, the parliament, and the public and use the powers to stop the trial at Munlochy and all the trials in Scotland." Fiona McLeod, the SNP's environment spokeswoman, said: "What Ross Finnie now has to do is listen very carefully to what the evidence is saying and act upon it and not leave the public to take it into their own hands."
It is not the first time the trial crop by Jamie Grant, of Roskill farm, and Aventis, a biotech company, has been damaged. Protesters trampled a large X in it on the day of the general election last year. Donnie MacLeod, an organic farmer, served 11 days in jail for refusing to name those involved.

Finnie suffers GM crop defeat - 19 April 2002, BBC - Scotland - UK - Activists called for a moratorium on trials
Rural Development Minister Ross Finnie has suffered a defeat at the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference in Perth over the issue of GM crop trials. Representatives voted by two to one against the continuation of the trials.  They also urged Mr Finnie to make the party's policy of caution on genetically-modified technology clear. The minister told the conference he had to accept European laws on the issue and allow the trials to continue. After the vote Mr Finnie said he respected the view he had heard from his party colleagues. But he added: "No-one has actually explained what we do in relation to the law." The controversy came during a debate on food policy, in which several activists called for a moratorium on GM crop trials. Activist Judy Hayman told the conference that research into GM crops should be driven by the needs of society, not the need for profit.
'Long-term damage'
"There is no evidence that the Scottish public wants GM," she said. "We are not being Luddite, but we cannot risk long-term environmental damage which may be irreversible. The trouble is we don't know - and by the time we find out, it may be too late to prevent further damage." Delegate Liz Dick said: "We say we need scientific evidence, and the trials themselves are not genuine scientific evidence. The trials may be doing harm to organic farms."
Mr Finnie argued against the call for a halt to tests on legal grounds. "We cannot be choosy about which European laws we accept and which we don't," he said. However, despite his pleas delegates supported an amendment calling for an immediate moratorium on field testing and commercial growing of GM crops in Scotland. It also said that GM testing should be restricted to enclosed laboratories. The decision was welcomed by the Scottish Green Party.
'Slap in the face'
MSP Robin Harper said: "This vote shows that even one person working with people in other parties can have a profound effect on Scottish politics. "I am elated that, contrary to the stance taken by some Liberal Democrat MSPs, the majority of the party has had the common sense to back the calls of Scottish Greens and vote to put a stop to the experimentation with the Scottish countryside that these GM trials represent." The Scottish National Party's deputy environment spokeswoman Fiona McLeod said the decision was "a slap in the face" for Mr Finnie. "It appears that, apart from the GM companies, the only person in Scotland who now supports the growing of GM crops is Ross Finnie. He is out on a limb and out of touch with the people of Scotland," she said.

The Munlochy Vigil condemns the Environment Minister's decision to relieve himself of powers on the GM crops issue. Following yesterday's defeat with the Transport & Environment committee telling Mr Finnie to act and pull out the GM crop trial at Munlochy, the Minister's intransigence in the face of both public and parliament's opposition is now followed by a panic measure to force Westminster to take over his responsibilities and to try and cloud the whole issue of competency. Now not only do we have an environmental, health and democratic problem, we also have one of major constitutional importance. None of this needs to be happening if only the Minister for the Environment listened to the overwhelming voices of opposition to GM crops in Scotland and ended the GM crop trials immediately. This issue is now rightfully at the top of the political agenda as it is of vital importance for the rural future of Scotland, to the health of its population, and for consumer choice. The democratic wishes of the people of the Black Isle and the Highlands, of Newport and Dundee, and of Aberdeenshire, have been ignored for far too long. For the Minister now to wash his hands of their genuine concerns is an affront to democracy and to his position as a Minister.

The Munlochy Vigil challenges the Transport & Environment Committee when it meets tomorrow (Wednesday 17th) to force Mr Finnie to adequately address the serious concerns and issues surrounding the GM crop trials in Scotland. The Munlochy Vigil totally refutes Mr Finnie's assertions in his response to genuine scientific concerns.[1] He is supposed to be the Minister for the environment, not a PR man for Aventis. There is a commercial crop growing 50m away from a GM crop at Munlochy and there are similar situations in Aberdeenshire. The Czech republic is demanding 200m separation distances. The EEA report states that GM OSR pollen is viable at a distance of 2km and if borne by insects may travel 10 km. Can the Minister guarantee that the commercial crop will not be cross-pollinated because it is illegal for GM contaminated oilseed rape to get into the food chain. Can he further guarantee that no wild relatives will be cross-pollinated and contaminated? No wonder these trials are uninsurable. The so called risk assessments state that the chances of the above are 'effectively zero'. The EEA report [2] states that it is 'high risk' and yet Mr Finnie says this was taken into consideration. The response is limited and arrogant and it is now up to the Transport & Envinroment Committee to see that this is totally insufficient and to represent their electorate, not multi-national corporations. It is now up to them to take on the responsibility of protecting the environment. Finally, Mr Finnie doesn't even address the health concerns raised by the Chairman of the BMA's Public Health Committee, Dr Charles Saunders on the total absence of health monitoring and his statement that the Executive is taking a gamble with people's health by running these trials. [3] This is an attempt at a whitewash but the issues and widespread concerns will not go away.  GM crops have to be dealt with politically. There is huge public opposition; there is political opposition - not only across the Highlands but also in Newport and Aberdeenshire and the petition calling for an end to the trials does have complete cross-party political support. This is a significant issue for the future of our environment and health, and for our farming and food.
Editors' Notes:
[1] Mr Finnie's response to Bristow Muldoon, Convener of the T& E Committee, available on Scottish parliament website under T&E Papers.
[2] EEA environmental report number 28, Jeremy Sweet
[3] The Herald, 2 March 2002

March 2002


US urges Europe to lift GM ban / Fixing on the farm – Ecologist – March 2002

Responding to GM farmer – Ross-shire Journal (letters) – 1/3/02

Pressure on Finnie to halt GM trials – Highland News – 2/3/02

Stop the GM tests says health chief (Expert warns crop trials are a gamble) – Herald – 2/3/02

Farmers told GM crops too dangerous to insure – Sunday Herald – 10/3/02

New research spurs call for suspension of GM crop trials – Press and Journal – 11/3/02

Call for GM trials axe at hearing – Inverness Courier – 12/3/02

4000 join battle to ban tests of GM crops – Glasgow Evening Times – 12/302

GM crops back on agenda – Herald – 13/3/02

Committee urged to act over GM trial ban call – Press and Journal – 13/3/02

Anti-GM petition wins hearing – Scotsman – 13/3/02

GM crop group go Edinburgh – Ross-shire Journal – 15/3/02

Anger at new GM crop trials – Scotsman – 15/3/02

Isle GM crops trial hears human rights argument – Press and Journal – 15/3/02

Executive gives green light to three more sites for trials of GM crops – Herald – 15/3/02

Holyrood move brings hope to GM protesters – Inverness Courier – 15/3/02

4000 name GM crop petition handed over – Inverurie Gazette – 15/3/02

New hopes for GM review in parliament – Highland News – 16/3/02

New report prompts growing fears over GM crops – Herald – 16/3/02

Sheriff pulls out stops to deny GM crops martyr – Press and Journal – 16/3/02

GM protester is locked up (21 days for contempt) – Daily Record – 19/3/02

GM crop trials protester is jailed – Inverness Courier – 19/3/02

Sheriff has made our dad a martyr say children of jailed GM protester – Press and Journal – 20/3/02

Supporters set to march for GM martyr – Ross-shire Journal – 22/3/02

A new hero for the Highlands – Highland News (editorial) – 23/3/02

Organic farmer sent to jail over GM ‘principle’ – Scottish Farmer – 23/3/02

Anti-GM campaigners take their protest to prison – Scotsman – 23/3/02

Crowds support for GM martyr – Sunday Post – 24/3/02

Crusade’s unlikely Highland martyr – Sunday Herald – 24/3/02

Protest over jailing of ‘GM martyr’ – Inverness Courier – 26/3/02

Silent witness – Guardian Society – 27/3/02

GM martyr humbled by support for jail stance – Press and Journal – 27/3/02

India approves growing of GM cotton – Financial Times – 27/3/02

MSPs seek answers on GM threat – Press and Journal – 28/3/02

Brave words from a prison cell – Highland News – 30/3/02

GM protester prepared to return to prison – Scotsman – 29/3/02

GM rebel defiant over jail sentence – Herald – 29/3/02

I was political prisoner claims jailed GM crop protester – Inverness Courier – 29/3/02

This is to thank you all for the e-mails to the Transport and Environment Committee.
A brief report on yesterday's meeting: there was concern shown on all sides. The result of this is that it has been referred directly and again as a matter of urgency to the Scottish Executive, ie the Minister Ross Finnie. This may not be the best way to get the trials stopped, but it would certainly be the fastest. Therefore we are urging you once again to e-mail/write to Mr. Finnie within the next two weeks, as he has to finish his report by the end of the Easter recess. The Transport and Environment Committee members received over 100 e-mails each, in 3 days -  a wonderful effort!! THANK YOU! If we can get 500 or even 1000 to Finnie he would know just how we all feel! So please circulate widely.
The points to stress are new evidence of environmental risks, especially:
* the EEA report: which states that GM oilseed rape is a high risk crop for crop to crop and crop to wild relative cross-contamination, which "increases the likelihood of extinction of wild relatives" (thus reducing biodiversity), as well as threatening the livelihoods of conventional and organic farmers.
* The English Nature report: which states the inevitability of the rise of multiple herbicide resistant "superweeds", necessitating the increased use of damaging herbicides such as paraquat and 2,4D (derived from agent orange)
* Sunday Times: (Feb 17th 2002)  which states that leaked preliminary results from the trials, show that GM oilseed rape is "damaging the environment".
 * FEMS report from Canada: Which shows that the soil around the roots of GM oilseed rape is altered.
* Also stress the issues of democracy and environmental justice, health risks, BMA policy/Charles Saunders (Herald 2nd March 2002)  economic problems for conventional + organic farmers + the lack of a market for GM produce (an EU survey shows that 79% of consumers will not eat GM) .
It will also be worthwhile to lobby Chales Kennedy + Jack McConnell, as well as the local MSPs, urging them to make representations to Finnie over the Easter recess on the above issues.
Finnie has said he will pull the trials if he has evidence of a threat or risk to the environment. He now has this evidence. He has been forced to look at this, let's try to get him to keep to his word.

The sentencing of James Moir in Aberdeen Sheriff Court

Mr Moir had plead guilty to the charge of malicious damage of a GM crop trial at Daviot Aberdeenshire in July 2000. Due to the Fiscal's erroneous assertion that the trial in question had had to be abandoned due to the damage inflicted by protesters (Mr Moir was among a group of activists who participated in the crop trashing) the Judge put him on good behaviour for nine months until the 30th of December so the matter of monetary damages could be further investigated. The Fiscal had stated that she was acting on information provided by Aventis who had clearly misled the court, for Dr Geoff Squire of the Scottish Crop Research Institute, the body charged with monitoring the trials, has always maintained that the trial had not been significantly affected (a catastrophic meteor hit wouldn't affect the validity of the trials according to that man!) and it is the case that (unfortunately) no GM trials in Aberdeenshire have ever had to be abandoned because of the actions of activists. Mr Moir has had this matter hanging over him for almost two years and this further delay is most unwelcome. Coming from a farming background Mr Moir is concerned about the impact that GM contamination will have on the livelihoods of farmers as well as the environmental and health impacts of the trials. Given that he is still awaiting his full sentencing he is not at liberty to discuss the case and the Sheriff clearly stated that he was keeping Mr Moir on good behaviour over the summer to ensure he did not try and decontaminate any other fields. Yet another travesty of justice.
Contact details -    Helena Forsyth, Grampian Against GM, (01224) 622389

March for Donnie Macleod - From: "William Smith" <> Sat, 23 Mar 2002
More than 300 people took part in a march today (Saturday 23rd March) from Inverness High Street to Porterfield Prison. This was a show of solidarity for Donnie Macleod, organic farmer and anti-GM campaigner from Ardersier, who is currently serving a 21 day jail sentence for contempt of court because, after being called as a prosecution witness, he repeatedly refused to name fellow campaigners who had trampled an oilseed rape crop at Munlochy on the Black Isle on election day last year. Speeches were made outside the  prison  by Irene Ross, a close friend of Donnie's,  Dr Kenny Taylor chairman of Highlands & Islands GM Concern, and Linda Martin from the Munlochy GM Vigil.  An extract from a statement written by Matthew Herbert, the activist originally charged for damaging the crop last year, was also read out. Several songs were sung, before the piper played Flower of Scotland and led folk back to Inverness castle. Given the very short timescale available to organise and publicise this march, the fact that over 300 people took part is quite incredible and it shows the ever increasing concern of ordinary Highland people about GM and all it stands for.

On Tuesday 12th March the farmer applied fertiliser to his farm scale evaluation. However, he only applied it on the GM half of the trial. The two sides must be treated in the same way apart from the differing herbicide regimes, the effects of which are supposedly being monitored.
We now not only have different varieties of oilseed rape being used in the trial, different sowing rates (with GM 3 times greater than the conventional) and completely different growth habits with the healthier non-GM control crop being 4 times the size, but now only the very poor-looking GM crop is fertilised.
Is this really science or an attempt to save face over the poverty of the GM crop?
commentary on the lack of scientific basis for the farm scale trials

GM trials up for question - BBC News - The Scottish Parliament is to reconsider the issue of GM crop trials...

4000 in bid to stop trials of GM crops - Glasgow Evening Times -
ANGRY campaigners today took their genetically modified crops protest to the Scottish Parliament. More than 4000 protesters, including Liberal Democrats' leader Charles Kennedy, urged Ministers to scrap all GM tests in Scotland. The campaigners say that the trials pose a major threat to public health and the environment. They have signed a petition demanding tests now underway should be stopped immediately. They also want a free vote in the Parliament on whether GM trials should be scrapped in Scotland.
Today they took their fight to the Parliament's Petitions Committee. Petition organiser Anthony Jackson, said: "The Scottish Parliament has the chance to make up for the democratic deficit and listen to the overwhelming voices of opposition to GM trials and GM crops. "Scotland has an opportunity to declare itself GM free, avoiding future environmental and health problems and taking advantage of the huge international market for non-GM foods." Many of the petitioners today came from Munlochy in Ross-shire, where tests are already underway. They have been staging a vigil near a Black Isle farm for six months, and say that the Scottish Executive has "consistently refused" to address their concerns.
As well as Mr Kennedy, their petition has the backing of local MSPs, farmers, land owners, businesses and scientists. Mr Jackson said the Parliament must take decisive action to prevent further GM crop trials in Scotland. He said: "It is time to act and face the major consequences, environmentally and economically, of more GM crops in Scotland...We can head towards a rural future dominated by powerful GM/chemical corporations, or one where farmers and consumers keep the right to choose what they grow and what they eat."
Twelve GM trials have taken place in Scotland and the final planting of GM seeds is scheduled for next year. An Executive spokesman said the Parliament investigated GM crops two years ago and Ministers had no power to stop trials. He added: "The report agreed the farm-scale evaluations have a role to play in the rightly cautious approach of the Executive towards GM development...Trials will allow us to take important decisions on whether GM crops have a commercial future informed by facts, not speculation."

Farmers told GM crops are 'too dangerous to insure' - The Sunday Herald (Glasgow - United Kingdom) - March 10, 2002 -
Genetically modified crops, like war and nuclear accidents, have been deemed too dangerous to insure against, the Sunday Herald can reveal. Insurance companies have decided not to provide farmers, their neighbours or anyone else with cover against the risks of GM contamination. This means that there will be no pay-outs for anyone whose health is harmed by GM food, and organic farmers put out of business by genetic pollution will get no compensation. As a result, leading land agents are advising their clients not to get involved with GM crops. The revelations come amidst growing alarm about the dangers to human health and the environment posed by genetically engineered plants in Scotland. Doctors say GM food is a "gamble", while conservationists fear GM crops could breed "superweeds" resistant to herbicides.
Despite all this, the Scottish environment and rural development minister, Ross Finnie, is still backing the 14 farm-scale trials of GM oilseed rape in Aberdeenshire, Ross-shire and Fife (see map). The trials have provoked widespread opposition which will come to a head this week when protesters travel to Edinburgh to deliver a petition to the Scottish Parliament. The protest is being led by the villagers of Munlochy in Ross-shire, where a GM trial has been under surveillance from a 24-hour vigil since last August. "The community is fundamentally against it and Finnie is riding roughshod over their opinion," said Anthony Jackson, one of the protesters. Now their fears, and those of many others, have been endorsed by insurance companies, the commercial experts in risk assessment. The two standard exemption clauses in insurance policies - for damages caused by war or nuclear accidents - have been joined by a third: the dangers posed by GM crops.
"These are a new and unknown quantity and until there is more scientific evidence and legal information it is impossible for any insurance company to provide cover," a spokesman for NFU Insurance, a leading insurer for farmers, told the Sunday Herald. "We believe that the companies that are in control of the trials should be responsible for the crops that are grown and we advise farmers to ensure that these companies accept any liabilities." Major rural land agents like Smiths Gore and Finlayson Hughes warn farmers off planting GM crops because of the potential liabilities. "If you cannot get cover, you'll have to think long and hard about it," said Richard Thompson from Smiths Gore.
Anti-GM campaigners and farmers reacted with anger. "These are appalling risks for Scottish farmers to take and their worries about this have been ignored by Ross Finnie. Farmers can go out of business and lose their livelihoods without any recompense," said Jo Hunt from Highlands and Islands GM Concern. "The Scottish Executive must move quickly to control these risks by requiring experimenting companies to provide full insurance cover and protect the 99.99% of Scotland's farmers who are not willing to take environmental risks which are unknown and uninsurable." Peter Erskine, who runs an organic farm producing grain, grass and potatoes near Crail in Fife, is 16 miles from a proposed new GM trial at Newport on Tay. "I am not ecstatic about someone wantonly introducing a factor that could seriously affect my business and is uninsurable," he said. The GM trials would reduce the value of the land and inevitably cause contamination in years to come, which could lead to the withdrawal of organic certification. "It's an appalling Pandora's Box that you can't put the lid on," he added. "It's grim."
Such concerns, however, are dismissed by the French multinational behind the GM trials, Aventis CropScience. Despite the large number of trials throughout Britain since the late 1980s, the company said that there had never been an occasion when any identifiable damage had been established, or anyone's organic certification had been removed. "When it comes to insuring something new, insurance companies don't like it," observed Julian Little from Aventis. "If legal liability is established we would pay up. Of course we would. It's how you do business."
Last week Charles Saunders, chairman of the British Medical Association's public health committee, called for the GM trials to be halted until scientists can prove they are safe. "We simply do not have enough reliable scientific evidence on their safety to be able to make a valid decision as to whether there are potential health effects or not," he was reported as saying. Meanwhile, Brian Johnson, the scientist from English Nature leading investigations into GM by the government's conservation agencies has warned about the risks of "superweeds". Research in Canada has shown that GM oilseed rape can produce seeds which accumulate resistance to more than one herbicide. This phenomenon, known as "gene-stacking", could lead to rape plants, which cannot be controlled by normal weedkillers, interfering with other crops. "There are serious implications for GM contamination of conventional food," said Johnson.
Protesters will be urging the Scottish Parliament this week to back the suspension of all the GM trials in Scotland. As well as being uninsurable and potentially hazardous, they will argue that the Munlochy trial is illegal because it could damage a nearby conservation area, the Inner Moray Firth, which is protected under European law. "The risks of GM are many and potentially huge, and are taken by every person living within a 9km radius of the site and in the resulting food chain," Highlands and Islands GM Concern will say. "The benefits are few and potentially very small or negative, and accrue to only one trans-national company, based in another country. GM crops are not worth the risk." - Fixing on the farm - The Ecologist, Vol 32, No 2, March 2002
The biotech industry and its supporters are using the Government’s GM farm scale evaluation to perpetrate a scientific fraud...
Up in the remote Scottish Highlands last August a group of anti-GM protesters decided that rather than pulling up a GM trial, they would place it under close observation. Five months on, having successfully braved a Highland winter while fighting off efforts to have them removed, those manning the Munlochy vigil say that what they have been monitoring has proved more than interesting. Visitors to the vigil have been surprised to be shown how differently the GM winter oilseed rape is performing compared to the non-GM plants in the parallel part of the trial. While the conventional crop is thriving, as Green MSP Robin Harper told Highland News, "It looked like the GM crop has grown about as high as a primrose." Aventis, the company whose seed is at the centre of the trial, dismisses claims that the stunted-looking plants are the product of genetic instability, arguing the difference is explained by the use of different varieties of oilseed rape.  But Harper and the ‘vigil-antis’ point out that, even if this were the case, such a failure to compare like with like would add up to a farm scale farce. With the GM plants at Munlochy only a quarter the size of the control crop, the latter "has substantial leafage and a close canopy, restricting the amount of light available for weeds to grow," explain Anthony Jackson and Nigel Mullan, two of the vigil stalwarts. More weeds means more insects, which would make the slower growing GM variety look better in terms of biodiversity but for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with genetic modification. For Harper that confirms that the trials are an "absolute nonsense and should be stopped. "
But some suspect a still more disturbing explanation for the poor performance of the GM crop: that the GM seed may have been deliberately planted deeper, thus weakening crop vigour. Why? Because weakening the crop’s performance would encourage weeds. And this goes to the heart of the matter. Unless the trials provide no evidence that growing GM crops causes more damage to biodiversity than modern industrial farming (which has already had a devastating impact on the countryside), commercial approval of the technology will be unsellable in a country where farmland and wildlife are more or less inseparable. Thus, ironically, while herbicide-resistant GM crops have been hyped to farmers as a high performing means of getting "clean" weed-free fields, and that’s exactly how they are being used by famers in North America, the covert goal of the UK trials has become the production of a bumper crop of British weeds!
The first clue as to what was afoot emerged back in 1998 when Monsanto began conducting press tours of GM crop trials run by scientists from the Institute of Arable Crops Research. The IACR scientists had allowed weeds to grow to an advanced stage amongst Monsanto’s herbicide-resistant beet before being sprayed with Roundup. The herbicide, as intended, killed everything except the GM beet but the remaining hefty plant population rotted down to produce a deep mulch, which Monsanto claimed was supporting insect life that would in turn support other wildlife. Large sections of the farming and general media were taken in: "Genetically engineered crops can save farmers money, reduce chemical spraying and create a better habitat for birds and insects, scientists claimed yesterday", reported The Times under the title, "Modified crops help man and wildlife".
When, nearly two-years later, the relevant IACR study was finally published[1], it turned out that the delayed herbicide application produced heavy yield losses. In other words, letting the weeds grow late caused a yield penalty that farmers would be unlikely to accept. Yet despite this, late herbicide application is exactly the kind of unrealistic approach which farmers currently involved in the farm scale evaluation are being advised to adopt in order to "enhance" the GM crops profile in terms of biodiversity. The IACR researchers who pioneered this approach are, in fact, among the senior scientists now overseeing the FSEs[2]  while the institute which allowed Monsanto to spin their industry-funded study two-years ahead of publication, is one of the principal scientific contractors carrying out the trials[3]. IACR has, needless to say, formed partnerships with a string of biotechnology companies[4]. Attitudes at the institute are so corporate friendly, in fact, that one of the co-authors of a report to government on the trials‚ progress is among several IACR scientists who have simultaneously worked for the biotech-industry financed pro-GM lobby, CropGen.[5]
Is it any wonder, then, that we’re failing to get a realistic assessment of the risks of GM crops? Or that while ‘independent’ science is busy sacrificing the public good to private interests, it is down to the vigilant watchers out in the driving sleet and rain at Munlochy to bear witness to what has all the appearances of a farm scale fraud.
[1] "Delayed control of weeds in glyphosate-tolerant sugar beet and the consequences on aphid infestation and yield" authored by Alan M Dewar, Lisa A Haylock, Kathy M Bean, Mike J May of IACR-Broom's Barn, Pest Management Science, Vol 56, Issue 4, 2000. p 345-350 (April 2000)
[2] Alan Dewar and Mike May
[3] The FSEs are being carried out by a consortium of three organisations: the Institute of Arable Crops Research (IACR) the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI) and the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology (ITE)
[4] 'Our partners include AgrEvo [now Aventis) DuPont , Novartis and Syngenta.'
[5] 'Dr Lutman is co-author of a report to the government on the progress of the trials -
UK Government 'should sack GM adviser' - Thursday, 16 March, 2000, 00:07 GMT
Lutman is Head of Research Programme Weed Biology and Control at the Institute of Arable Crops Research and was at the time of the article one of three IACR scientists working with CropGen.

Stop GM crop tests, says health chief - The Herald, March 4 2002
ONE of Scotland's leading public health consultants has called for an end to the testing of genetically modified crops until scientists can prove they are safe. Charles Saunders said the Scottish Executive was taking a "gamble" with public health by carrying out the trials. Mr Saunders is the chairman of the British Medical Association's public health committee, and an expert in environmental health and communicable diseases. His comments are likely to embarrass the Executive as he is a consultant in public health for Fife Health Board. In a rare stance for someone who holds an official health post, he claimed on Friday the release of genetically modified organisms was "irreversible". "Releasing genetically modified organisms into the environment is effectively irreversible as once gone it is impossible to get them back out of the environment or control their potential effects," said Mr Saunders. "We simply do not have enough reliable scientific evidence on their safety to be able to make a valid decision as to whether there are potential health effects or not. Indeed, there has not been any decent monitoring of the health of people around sites where genetically modified organisms (GMO) have been released."
In a guarded warning to Ross Finnie, the environment minister who is due to make a decision on three GM sites this month, Dr Saunders added: "I am not saying that GMOs are bad for people's health, what I am simply saying is that the evidence is not there and that the precautionary principle which means taking every reasonable precaution would therefore dictate that these trials should not be going ahead...We certainly think that what is being proposed is premature and currently we do not have the knowledge base to make a valid decision about the potential health risks but going ahead with these trials at the moment is essentially a gamble." Dr Saunders said he was speaking on behalf of the Fife board's public health department and not the board itself which is yet to discuss the prospect of what will be the first genetically modified crop site in Fife.
Mr Finnie will make the decision on this site and two others in Aberdeenshire as he has the ultimate responsibility for Scotland's role in the UK-wide farm scale evaluation programme. An executive spokesman said the minister was due to attend a local meeting today to address the concerns of people in the Fife area, adding: "The trials will not be given the go-ahead unless the minister is completely confident that there is no threat to public health or the environment."

February 2002


Executive urged to stop latest GM trials – Press and Journal – 1/2/02

GM shanty town – Ross-shire Journal (letters) – 2/2/02

Safety of GM foods reviewed in new report – Press and Journal – 4/2/02

Fears for babies from GM milk – Daily Telegraph – 5/2/02

Scientists urge better safety checks on GM foods – Press and Journal – 5/2/02

GM fund event – Inverness Courier – 5/2/02

Rise of GM super weed a disaster for wildlife – Independent – 5/2/02

British scientists turn on GM food – Guardian – 5/2/02

Scientists signal GM food set back – Scotsman – 5/2/02

Caution urged on GM foods – Herald – 5/2/02

Petition calls for halt to GM trial – Herald – 7/2/02

Politicians join farmers in call to end crop trials – Scotsman – 7/2/02

Anti-GM petition wins cross party support – Press and Journal – 8/2/02

GM protesters demand action from Holyrood – Inverness Courier – 8/2/02

Daviot plan seed trials – Inverurie Gazette – 8/2/02

Munlochy GM petition is handed over – Ross-shire Journal – 8/2/02

Highland GM group to advise others – Highland News – 9/2/02

Munlochy GM crop farmer gives his side of the story – Ross-shire Journal letters – 15/2/02

The outcast – Sunday Times Ecosse – 17/2/02

Major conference on GM crops – Sunday Post – 17/2/02

Anti-GM views voiced at top forum – Press and Journal – 18/2/02

Drugs company boss blasts GM scientists – Inverness Courier – 19/2/02

GM trials result prompts call for crop’s destruction – Press and Journal – 20/2/02

Convener calls for GM advice caution – Press and Journal – 21/2/02

The two sides of GM crops – Ross-shire Journal – 22/2/02

Executive rejects new plea to end GM trials – Inverness Courier – 22/2/02

Good food and Highland hospitality – Press and Journal – 22/2/02

GM battlers head for the parliament – Highland News – 23/2/02

January 2002


Anti-GM activists take in New Year at camp – Press and Journal – 2/1/02

Finnie is faulted by MSPs joining GM protest in Black Isle – Press and Journal – 7/1/02

SNP calls for moratorium on GM trials – Herald – 8/1/02

SNP calls for halt to Black Isle GM trials / Bee man attacks ‘assurances’ from Finnie – Press and Journal – 8/1/02

Nationalists demand halt to GM trials – Scotsman – 8/1/02

Stop GM trials until tests end, says SNP – Press and Journal – 10/1/02

Support for GM camp – Ross-shire Journal – 11/1/02

SNP renews call for removal of GM crop / editorial – We’re not interested – Highland News – 12/1/02

SNP sets GM poser for Finnie – Scottish Farmer – 12/1/02

GM CD sells like hotcakes – Ross-shire Journal – 18/1/02

Anti-GM CD in the charts – Inverness Courier - 18/1/02

Candidate GM crop trial sites to be revealed – Press and Journal – 19/1/02

GM firms sued in Canadian test case – Highland News – 19/1/02

Conference on GM crops – Press and Journal – 23/1/02

Final year of GM farm scale oilseed rape evaluations – Ross-shire Journal – 25/1/02

GM conference will show both sides of the debate – Highland News – 26/1/02

GM sites go public – Scottish Farmer – 26/1/02

Government vows to listen to concerns voiced over GM crops – Press and Journal – 31/1/02

December 2001

Further GM fears at Black Isle site – North Star – 1/12/01

GM companies told to face facts – Press and Journal – 4/12/01

GM pressure grows on under fire Finnie – Highland News – 8/11/01

MSP throws his weight behind Black Isle GM protesters – Press and Journal – 10/12/01

We’re on our way – Inverurie Gazette – 14/12/01

Musicians tune in to help GM protesters – Press and Journal – 15/12/01

GM oilseed rape trial ‘early’ flower sparks war of words – Inverness Courier – 18/12/01

Protesters ready to spend Christmas on the GM front line – Inverness Courier -21/12/01

Legal query delays trial on GM farm protesters – Press and Journal – 22/12/01

GM crop protesters spend Christmas day at trial site – Press and Journal – 26/12/01

GM petition will be sent to Holyrood – Inverness Courier – 28/12/01

In who’s interest? -  Scottish Wildlife – winter/spring 2002, no. 45

November 2001

MSPs back GM protesters – Ross-shire Journal – 2/11/01

Organic farmer returns to anti-GM vigil site – Highland News – 3/11/01

GM trial results maybe affected by fungicide – Highland News – 10/11/01

GM protest camp wins public seal of approval – Press and Journal – 15/11/01

Re-think plea as GM firm is taken over / editorial – What will the future bring? – North Star – 17/11/01

GM crops battle rages in Brazil – Press and Journal – 17/11/01

Protesters and politicians express concern at GM firm’s sell off plan – Press and Journal – 19/11/01

Council gives green light for anti-GM vigil – Herald – 21/1101

GM protest camp wins approval to stay – Press and Journal – 21/11/01

Farm vigil continues – Scotsman – 21/11/01

Carry on camping GM protesters told by planners – Inverness Courier – 23/11/01

Anti-GM camp is told it can stay – Ross-shire Journal – 23/11/01

Munlochy protest reaches royal ears – North Star – 24/11/01

Support for GM protesters – Press and Journal – 24/11/01

Green MSP visits Black Isle’s anti-GM camp – 26/11/01

Staying on track for a Highland tour – Press and Journal – 30/11/01

October 2001


Take over of company behind GM crop trials – Press and Journal – 3/10/01

GM tourist attraction! – Ross-shire Journal – 5/10/01

Police urge protesters to end GM spray demo – Press and journal – 5/10/01

Spray protest at GM site – Inverness Courier – 5/10/01

GM campaigners blast bias – Highland News – 6/10/01

Spraying catches protesters unprepared – Inverness Courier – 9/10/01

MSP joins Munlochy GM campaigners in farm vigil – Press and Journal – 10/10/01

GM protesters get support from council – Scotsman – 11/10/01

Minister turns fire on GM crop protests (Council asked to get rid of campaigners’ lay-by camp) / plus editorial – To reap what is sown – Herald – 11/10/01

MSP boosts anti-GM crop cause – Ross-shire Journal – 12/10/01

Ross Finnie has his say on GM crops – Highland News – 13/10/01

MP backs protesters’ calls to halt Munlochy GM trials – Press and Journal – 12/10/01

Minister’s GM protester eviction call is rejected – Inverness Courier – 12/10/01

MSP tackles Finnie over GM comment – Scotsman – 19/10/01

MSP concerned at protest comments – Press and Journal – 19/10/01

Stop bullying, protesters tell Minister – Inverness Courier – 19/10/01

The anti-GM case never stronger / Executive’s second demand to deny permission for vigil site - Highland News – 20/10/01

Questions raised over Finnie’s GM remark – Press and Journal – 20/10/01

Minister may have breached code – Inverness Courier – 23/10/01

GM crop protesters claim farmer is blocking their camp – Press and Journal – 24/10/01

GM farmer gets ‘barricade’ order – Press and Journal – 25/10/01

Boxing not so clever – Ross-shire Journal – 26/10/01

GM trials farmer removes ‘road block’ crates – Inverness Courier – 26/10/01

GM row sparks crunch meeting – Highland News – 27/10/01

September 2001

Expert hits out at Black Isle GM crop protesters – Press and Journal – 1/9/01

Shock GM research – North Star – 1/9/01 (plus letter from the minister for environment and rural affairs in the Scottish Executive and editorial)

New shock in research – Highland News – 1/9/01

Protest grows as Finnie goes back on GM promise – Sunday Herald – 2/9/01

200 attend GM crop meeting – Sunday Post – 2/9/01

Greens rally against Scots GM crop trial – Morning Star – 3/9/01

Black Isle Protest piles up pressure for GM test ban – Press and Journal – 3/9/01

Finnie defends giving GM crop trial green light – Inverness Courier – 4/9/01

GM consultation leaves critics cold – Press and Journal – 4/9/01

Highland GM giant tries to gag the state – Press and Journal – 6/9/01

GM firm in legal bid to stem information – Inverness Courier – 7/9/01

GM campaigners launch appeal – Scotsman – 8/9/01

Legal challenge on GM crop spraying – Herald – 8/9/01

GM firm bids to stop crop trial results going public – Press and Journal – 8/9/01

Court to decide on herbicide – Guardian – 8/9/01

92% oppose GM trials – Highland News – 8/9/01

Ministers handle GM badly say experts – Press and Journal – 10/9/01

Report urges better information on GM crop trials – Scotsman – 10/9/01

Report attacks secrecy over GM crop trials – Herald – 10/9/01

Ministers rebuked over GM trials – Times – 10/9/01

GM trials to continue despite critical report – Herald – 11/9/01

GM battlers in legal fighting fund move – Inverness Courier – 11/9/01

MP in plea for openness on GM trials – Press and Journal – 12/9/01

GM crops protest – Press and Journal – 13/9/01

Protesters to wear masks for GM crop spraying / Holyrood faces quiz on GM trial liability – Inverness Courier – 14/9/01

MSP seeks GM crop report study – Ross-shire Journal – 14/9/01

Herbicide due to be sprayed at GM site – Highland News – 15/9/01

Protester don protection for GM spray – Inverness Courier – 18/9/01

GM crop protesters await Executive action – Press and Journal – 19/9/01

Executive too timid claim as call for freeze on GM crop trials approved – Press and Journal – 20/9/01

Call for freeze on GM crop trials in Highlands – Inverness Courier – 21/9/01

Council reveals new policy over GM crop trials openness – Press and Journal – 21/9/01

Black Isle GM trial must wait, say councillors – Scotsman – 21/9/01

Council calls for halt to GM trial – Herald – 21/9/01

Now US wheat growers drawn into GM crop row – Press and Journal – 22/9/01

Herbicide tests at GM crop site – Highland News – 22/9/01

Food for thought – Press and Journal – 24/9/01

Prince to visit the Scots GM crop protest couple who make his favourite cheeses – Daily Record – 26/9/01

Highland Council call for end to Black Isle GM crop trials - Ross-shire Journal – 28/9/01

Field of schemes – Highland News - 29/9/01

GM seedlings found in commercial crop – Press and Journal – 29/9/01

August 2001


Arrests as protest rocks Highlands – Press and Journal – 24/8/01

Five arrested at GM crop trial protest – Inverness Courier – 24/8/01

GM crop protesters plan weekend rally – Press and Journal – 28/8/01

GM crop test consultations branded too little too late - Inverness Courier – 28/8/01

Protest at new GM trial grows – Scotsman – 28/8/01

GM protesters call for rally support – Inverness Courier – 31/8/01

GM protest march – Ross-shire Journal – 31/8/01

GM crop protesters stage rally - Ananova -
A number of protesters have held a vigil outside a farm following a rally against genetically modified crop tests at the site.  Organisers say the rally at Roskill Farm in the Munlochy area of the Black Isle was attended by between 200 and 300 mainly local people. The farm has one of the four fields in the north of Scotland that has been given the go-ahead for GM trials by the Scottish Executive.  The rally followed the recent arrest of six of protesters who were charged with aggravated trespass. They are due to face trial on November 23.

Scottish shadow rural affairs minister Fergus Ewing, and SNP MSP for Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, was among the speakers at the rally which lasted for about two hours.  Mr Ewing says his party will be continuing to press for legislation requiring all GM crop tests to get local backing before being permitted.  He said: "There was a fairly good turnout, despite the obvious alternative attraction of Scotland against Croatia [football!], and everything went off peaceably...I think it's very evident from today's demonstration and recent campaigns, that many people are concerned about GM crops. Many people today expressed concerns over the lack of information and government secrecy....There's also a specific worry over the possible serious effect which GM crops may have on organic farming and also on bee-keeping."

Several campaigners are staying in three caravans adjacent to the field on a rota basis until the test crops are removed.
Story filed: 21:02 Saturday 1st September 2001
GM protesters in court 17:14 Friday 24th August 2001
Protesters held after GM crop demo 18:00 Thursday 23rd August 2001

Furor over GE Crop Test Sites in Scotland - Aberdeen Press and Journal - August 22, 2001 - GM go-ahead on the Black Isle ignores mass protest
By: Les Parker, Sarah Bruce, and Nathaniel Anderson
PROTESTERS who had staged a huge anti-GM crop rally in Inverness reacted furiously last night to the announcement that two trials are to go ahead. The news broke only days after Scotland's biggest such protest and has provoked unprecedented legal moves. Opponents of the decision to run trials of GM oilseed rape on a Black Isle farm are preparing to take the Executive to court to overturn the  decision. The convener of Highland Council warned the Executive it faced a backlash. The decision to host the trials at Roskill Farm, Munlochy, was not confirmed on Monday as expected, after more than 500 protesters had marched on Inverness on Saturday.  It came only a day later. Two fields of GM rape will be grown at Munlochy with a further two on Aberdeenshire farms at Daviot and Rothienorman. All are in traditional growing areas for autumn-sown rape, said the Executive.
The environmental group Highlands and Islands GM Concern gave warning it was seeking legal advice on blocking the trials on the Black Isle. Its concerns centre on the effects of a herbicide to be used. Officials insisted that the variety of oilseed rape in the North trials had been grown under research conditions for 10 years without detriment. GM Concern chairman Kenny Taylor said: "There has essentially been no public consultation on this, other than one advertisement placed by the company several weeks ago.,,,We've discovered that there could be a case for the Executive to answer on this....We're now seeking to find other like -minded individuals and partner bodies to join with us in taking this to court."
Highland Council convener David Green also appreciated local feeling. He said: "I have absolutely no doubt that attitudes will now harden.....I relayed the strength of the local concern to the rural affairs minister recently when I underlined the council's view that no further trials should be approved until the Agriculture and Environmental Commission had reported on their findings of the first trial . . . this advice has been ignored." David Alston, Black Isle North councillor, in whose area the trials will be held, said: "For over a year, the council has campaigned for greater openness and accountability on GM crop trials.....We went to the Court of Session to try, unsuccessfully, to bring crop trials within the planning process; we brought the Agriculture, Environment and Biotechnology Commission (AEBC) to the Highlands to take evidence on the trial at Munlochy last year; and we have established, through a Highland-wide survey, that the majority are opposed to both the crop trials and to future commercial growing of GMOs....In fact, even if there were additional safeguards, only 21% would support further trials....We have a clear position based on the precautionary principle." Mr Alston added that Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) had raised specific concerns....Ross Finnie (Rural Affairs Minister) has repeatedly said that he can only act on the scientific advice given to him. This appears to be clear  advice, from his scientific advisers, that there are concerns, specific to this site, which have not been addressed."
An MSP reacted furiously to the Aberdeenshire green light. The Scottish National Party's North-east member, Brian Adam, said the Government's approach was shrouded in secrecy, describing the public consultation as a sham....There doesn't appear to be any will in Government to back the overwhelming public view on GM crop trails. Their consultation is just a joke." The Executive stood by its decision. "Approval was granted following detailed advice from a variety of bodies including Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment and the Food Standards Agency," said a spokesman. "All deemed the crops to pose no threat to the environment or people living near....All four sites will take place under closely supervised and regulated conditions. Should any potentially harmful effects be identified, the trial will be stopped and the crop destroyed."