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Thursday, 3 May, 2001, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
GM trials: Farmers lobby minister
Crop field
Three sites in Wales are earmarked for GM trials
Organic farmers fighting to stop GM maize being sown in west Wales have taken their fight to London on Thursday.

Campaigners from Mathry in Pembrokeshire - where two trials of three trials in Wales are planned - have been meeting Environment Minister Michael Meacher.

They called for the meeting to warn him of the damage they claim could be caused to neighbouring organic farms if the planting goes ahead.

Environment Minister Michael Meacher
Meacher faces two lobby groups on Thursday
Time is running out for the protesters, who fear for their livelihoods if their "pure" crops are pollinated by the genetically-modified plants.

The maize seed is expected to be sown soon, in order to get planting underway now that conditions are right.

The campaigners have been pinning their hopes on legal advice - sought in the hope of getting an injunction - and the meeting with Mr Meacher.

He will be told that the livelihoods of organic farmers would be threatened by the presence of GMOs in the area.

No legal power

Cross-contamination by the wind or insects is their greatest fear.

Mr Meacher will also be lobbied on Thursday by representatives of the Henry Doubleday Association - Europe's largest organic research organisation - whose headquarters in Warwickshire are also being threatened by a proposed GM trial.

The decision to send six Mathry farmers to London was taken after the Welsh Assembly was told it had no legal means to block GM maize being grown in Wales.

Welsh Agriculture Minister Carwyn Jones told the National Assembly on Tuesday that there was no legal basis to block genetically- modified crop trials in Wales.

Former Conservative MP Tony Marlow
Land owned by former MP Tony Marlow is to be planted

But Mr Jones has said that he will try to increase the distance between GM trial sites and organic producers - and he wants those distances to be legally enforced.

Planting of GM maize expected to start soon at trial sites, including Sealand in Flintshire, north Wales.

The assembly has fought for six months to try to "go it alone" and prevent the crops from being grown at all in Wales.

Scientific studies failed to give Mr Jones the power to ban the GM crops, nor can he prevent individual farmers from growing them.

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See also:

04 Apr 01 | Wales
Minister knew of GM crop trials
10 Oct 00 | Wales
Assembly GM debate postponed
26 May 00 | Wales
Farm economy contribution row
18 Oct 00 | Wales
Early test for coalition
28 Aug 00 | Wales
Wales' only GM trial damaged
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