Head of Greenpeace UK released from custody

Lord Melchett, head of Greenpeace UK, was released on Wednesday 28 July after being remanded in custody on Monday. Melchett and 27 other environmental activists attacked a genetically-modified maize field in Norfolk on Monday.

The dawn raid on the GM maize – that, according to Greenpeace, was on the verge of flowering – resulted in damage to the third of seven large-scale trials designed to assess the environmental implications of the GM crops.

The seven trial crops constitute the Environment Ministry-led Farmscale Evaluation Project. The Project will involve research and input from several ministries, including the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF).

A MAFF spokesperson told edie that “at this stage, there is no change to the project, although, in future, we may need to examine options over field disclosure”. Information regarding the location of project sites is currently made available to the public.

Speaking with edie, Dr Hennessy of MAFF’s Livestock science and biotechnology unit, confirmed that the study is ongoing: “As long as sites remain, we will continue to work on the research.”

Greenpeace defended its action on scientific grounds: “We already know that this crop is a danger to the environment, so much so that the Swiss Government banned it from open air trials. It is a danger to the environment and to the food chain and once that crop has flowered the contamination is irreversible.” The environmental organisation accused the UK Government of acting from a political rather than a scientific basis, stating that the Government’s scientific advisors have admitted that cross-pollination is inevitable.

Opponents of Greenpeace’s action argue that such trials must be allowed to take place because they will provide crucial data on GM crops’ impacts on bio-diversity.

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