GM crop campaigners found guilty
15 January, 2001
Four men have been convicted of vandalising a field containing GM crops in
Midlothian. Mark Ballard, Matthew Herbert, James Mackenzie and Alan Tolmie
had denied deliberately destroying the oilseed rape plants being grown at
Boghall Farm near Dalkeith in March 1999.
They argued that what they did was reasonable, given what they alleged
were the potentially grave dangers to the environment.
However, the four were found guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday
Mark Ballard: "History will vindicate us"
Ballard, Herbert and MacKenzie were each fined £125, while Tolmie was
But the four later pledged that their campaign would continue - and said
they were considering an appeal.
Ballard - a Green Party spokesman and chairman of the advisory board for
the youth wing of Friends of the Earth Europe - said: "We took the step in
the knowledge of what might happen, but in the certainty that we had to
"I am sure that history will vindicate us. We will be proven right in the
end when people see the problems."
Mackenzie said: "We are surprised that the sheriff has decided to find us
guilty as we felt there was enough evidence to show that our actions were
"But you can be reassured that the campaign against the testing of GM
crops will continue, despite this verdict."
Green Party MSP Robin Harper said: "We are disappointed at the verdict
and, although the Scottish Green Party doesn't condemn or condone direct
action, it doesn't mean we don't have a great deal of sympathy for those
people who may take this kind of action.
"I don't think that this verdict is a setback and I think people will
continue to protest in this way as there is a great depth of feeling in
many parts of Scotland against these field trials."
Ballard, 29, a graphic designer from Stockbridge, Edinburgh; Herbert, 28,
a researcher from St Andrews; Tolmie, 33, a professional busker from
Edinburgh and Mackenzie, 28, a press officer from Stockbridge, had earlier
been found not guilty of obstructing police during the demonstration.
Six other environmental protesters were also cleared of the same charge
During the trial Sheriff Elizabeth Jarvie, QC, heard that 100
demonstrators had gathered at the Midlothian farm.
The trial was held at Edinburgh Sheriff Court
A group of activists jumped over the fence into a field where a GM crop
trial was growing and some started pulling up oilseed rape plants.
But the trial plants were hidden within a larger commercial crop - and the
activists attacked an unmodified, decoy area leaving the test area
They caused only £1.50 worth of damage.
The plant trial, co-ordinated by the UK Government and carried out by the
Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) as part of a UK-wide operation,
involved American company Monsanto.
Professor David Atkinson from the SAC said: "It is a very important
verdict for Scottish agriculture and for research in this area.
"We know Scottish agriculture is experiencing difficult times. It needs to
be able to explore all the options that are open to it."
Giving evidence last year at the trial, Tolmie said he believed the
genetically modified crop trials were "evil".
"I would lay down my life to fight against it," he said.
"We had to destroy the field before it destroyed us."
Last year 28 members of the environmental pressure group Greenpeace were
cleared of theft and criminal damage after destroying GM crops at a
They admitted destroying a six-and-a-half acre field, but argued that they
were acting to prevent neighbouring property being damaged by genetically
Genetically Modified Beans Found on Korean Farms
January 15, 2001
SEOUL, Jan 15 Asia Pulse - A group of scientists said Sunday they have
found genetically modified beans at Korean farms for the first time, the
JoongAng Ilbo reported Monday.
The group, led by Professor Park Won-mok of Korea University, said they
found 10 altered genes in 3,000 bean leaves after inspecting growing beans
in Kyonggi and South Chungchong Provinces last summer.
The only altered beans available are imports so most likely they are of
foreign origin, the group said.
Two explanations for the presence of modified beans were given: the Rural
Development Administration, which inspects agricultural imports, failed to
detect genetic modifications because of inadequate detection methods, or
some farmers obtained the genetically altered seeds on their own
An agricultural specialist said some farmers use foreign seeds, believing
they can increase yields.
After the report, Korean scientists say a comprehensive system to inspect
agricultural imports is needed before the government starts to label GMOs
sold in consumer markets in March.
Korean law allows only the government to sell seeds for major grains,
including corn and beans, but seeds from other groups reportedly are
widely available in the black market.
Whether genetically modified organisms harm humans has yet to be confirmed
with the United States and Europe presenting discordant reports.
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2001 15:22:10 -0500
From: "Sarah Grant"
Subject: information request - Precautionary Principle
Hello Prof. Prakash,
I have been on the hunt for information reqarding the
Precautionary Priniciple, and am having trouble finding journal articles
on the subject. One particular item of interest is a definition of the
principle. (There seems to be a lot of information on the web, and a
common theme is a lack of definition). Any information and/or resources
(espcially journal articles) you can direct me to would be greatly
Thanks in advance for your time. All the best in 2001.
Canadian Food Information Council
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2001 15:47:47 -0800
From: "Sue Webster"
Subject: Course announcement
Dear Dr. Prakash,
As a subscriber to AgBio View, would it be possible for our upcoming
courses (see below information) to be announced to the list as well as on
the AgBio View web site? I would appreciate your help very much. Thank
Seed Biotechnology Center
One Shields Avenue
University of CA
Davis CA 95616
Two courses of interest to seed biologists to be held in February 2001.
To sustain the world's exploding population, many farmers are looking to
technology to increase the yield and nutritional quality of their crops.
Seed biotechnology, in particular, is beginning to play an important role
in agriculture. For example, protection from diseases and insects will
increasingly be provided through genetically-altered seeds rather than
through chemical applications. Also, nutritional improvements developed
through biotechnology will have a major impact on future food quality.
In an effort to share knowledge and research in this growing area,
the University of California at Davis Seed Biotechnology Center presents
two University Extension workshops in February 2001.
Basics of Plant Biotechnology for Business Professionals explains
what biotechnology is and how it is used for crop plant improvement. This
workshop gives an overview of the techniques and terminology of plant
biotechnology and describes applications in breeding, seed production and
new product development. Consumer concerns related to the use of plant
biotechnology in agriculture are also discussed. The course is designed
primarily for owners, managers, sales representatives and other
professionals who are not directly involved in the science of
biotechnology, as well as anyone who wants to learn more about the new
methods available for crop improvement. This course takes place Tuesday,
February 6, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. The $300 fee includes lunch, and course
Seed Biology, Production and Quality presents the scientific background
for production, handling, storage and quality control procedures in the
seed industry. It provides a unique opportunity for professionals in the
seed industry, crop consultants and growers to expand and update their
knowledge about seed biology, production and quality. Participants learn
about the entire life cycle of seeds from flowering and pollination
through seed development, harvesting, conditioning, storage, enhancement
Emphasis is placed on how the development and physiology of seeds
influence yield, quality and performance. This workshop takes place
February 7-8, Wednesday, 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. and Thursday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The
$400 fee includes two lunches, one social and course materials.
Both programs are held on the UC Davis campus and are coordinated by Kent
Bradford, Ph.D., director of the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center.
For more information about these courses or to enroll, see the web site
http://sbc.ucdavis.edu/course2.htm or call University Extension, UC Davis
at (800) 752-0881.
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2001 12:01:15 -0500
From: Christy Vines
Subject: Position advertisement
We are currently advertising for a part-time person for ISB and were
wondering if it would be possible to put an announcement on the agbioworld
site? The position was advertised on the back page of the ISB News
Report, December 2000 issue.
If you have questions, please contact us.
Thank you for your time.
Information Systems for Biotechnology
306-A Engel Hall
Blacksburg VA 24061
tel: (540) 231-6154
fax: (540) 231-9070