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Last Updated: Monday, 22 March, 2004, 14:17 GMT
Councillor plans to halt GM maize
GM campaigner
Campaigners ambushed trials of GM maize
A councillor in Yorkshire is trying a novel way to ruin government plans to grow genetically modified (GM) maize.

John Clark, a Liberal on Ryedale District Council, is supplying organic maize for people to grow at home.

They would then have to be consulted about any GM maize being planned for the area, to avoid cross-contamination.

The government's decision to agree in principle to the growing of a single variety of GM maize, but not beet and oilseed rape, has angered campaigners.

Mr Clark told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I'm going to encourage people to take maize plants from me, to grow in their gardens, allotment and window boxes.

"So the government then has to consult with each person if they want to grow GM maize."

Ministers have indicated there has to be a safe distance between "farms" of organic and GM crops.

But the distance required has yet to be quantified and the definition of farms yet to be set.

Mr Clark denied it was sabotage and claimed he was merely putting the public into a debate in which they had previously been ignored.

Greenpeace fury

He said he hoped his offer would be taken up by thousands of people.

Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett announced last week that a herbicide-tolerant variety of GM maize could be commercialised in England.

She told MPs the government would oppose the growing anywhere in the European Union of beet and oilseed rape - the two other GM crops involved in recent tests, known as the farm-scale evaluations.

Greenpeace said it was incensed the government had chosen to ignore British public opinion.

Councillor John Clark
"So far all the GM debate has been between the bio-tech companies and the government"

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