GM T25 Maize Trial at Ryton Organic Gardens...CANCELLED!
In their sheer arrogance and stupidity the announcement from DETR of the latest round of Farm Scale Trials in April placed one 2 miles from the internationally famous Ryton Organic Gardens in Warwickshire. This is the largest organic research organisation in Europe and is run by the Henry Doubleday Research Association. Not only is their organic status under threat but so are the livelihoods of over 100 people who either are directly employed or are dependent upon Ryton for some of their income. Even more amazing was that the first they knew about the close proximity was when BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire rang them for their opinion. Jane Green from Coventry FOE led the radio stories the following morning to be followed by a head to head between Alan Gear of Ryton and Paul Rylett of Aventis in which the latter said that they had informed all local farmers - "Well, not us" was the terse reply.
The following Saturday around 20 activists met up at Ryton restaurant and proceeded to leaflet the surrounding villages. This was followed by a coordinated week of action. This included an information stall incorporating the infamous Maize on Stilts in Coventry, a rally in Wolston, a public meeting attended by over 200 hundred people (who, all but 7, voted against the trial site here) and finally a stall in Rugby.
The press were everywhere, and local opinion grew ever stronger against the arrogant attitude of not only Aventis but also DETR.
A meeting was arranged between the local MP Andy King, Alan Gear of Ryton, our own Pete Riley and Michael Meacher. This resulted in Michael Meacher writing to various bodies and Aventis asking them to call off the trials which begs the question "Who is in charge of this process?"
A daily vigil commenced on May 9th involving many people from the village and the media interest grew and grew. The RSPB locally got involved and in turn so did the RSPB nationally. This resulted in them indicating that they would withdraw their support from one of the bodies of which they are a member, the Scientific Steering Committee. This acts as an advisory body to the Government and to the voluntary industrial body SCIMAC (Supply Chain Initiative on Modified Agricultural Crops). While they said the threat of cross contamination was likely to be zero they wouldn't say there was no chance of cross pollination, nor would any of the parties take responsibility or liability for events which might take place as a result of this activity. This threat from the RSPB essentially put the whole process under the spotlight. More rallies were planned when on 21st May the news broke that the trial had been cancelled! Campaigning works!
Mark Hammond, Rugby FOE, John Walker, Coventry FOE