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Sunday, September 26, 1999 Published at 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK

UK Politics

Protests greet Labour in Bournemouth

GM protest have followed the prime minister to Bournemouth

The first of a series of high-profile demonstrations has taken place at the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth.

About a hundred protesters opposed to genetically-modified crops protested outside the conference hall, as Prime Minister Tony Blair prepared for to answers delegates questions inside.

Demonstrators sought to make their point by donning a range of elaborate costumes. Many dressed as pantomime cows, while one wore a costume depicting a fish crossed with a tomato.

[ image: Tony Blair: Under pressure from many sides]
Tony Blair: Under pressure from many sides
Chants of "GMO - We say, No" emerged from a giant caterpillar, which brought up the rear guard of the protest.

Peaceful protest

The demonstrators demanded the removal of GM crops from animal feed.

A heavy police presence surrounded the marchers, but the event passed off peacefully.

The protesters handed in a petition to the Labour Party, which they said bored the signatures of more than 15,000 people opposed to GM foods.

Ray Foulk of the GMO campaign in Oxford said earlier: "Human immunity to antibiotics is already occurring due to a build-up through their use in livestock as a growth agent.

"Fears are that GM animal feed will compound this existing problem, bringing forward the day when antibiotic medicines no longer work as treatments for human diseases."

Larger protests planned

[ image: Pro-fox hunters promise the biggest demo]
Pro-fox hunters promise the biggest demo
Far greater numbers are expected to join protests later in the week, particularly on Tuesday when the prime minister makes his keynote speech.

Up to 10,000 farmers are expected to join a demonstration to demand action on the state of the UK's agriculture industry on Monday.

The next day, the Countryside Alliance is promising to bring out 16,000 protesters opposed to the government's stated intention of banning fox hunting.

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