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The BBC's Wyre Davies in Pembrokeshire
"The combination of local and political pressure has succeeded in bringing this trial to an end"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 9 May, 2001, 07:48 GMT 08:48 UK
GM crop trials abandoned
organic carrots being harvested
Farmers fear their organic crops could be contaminated
Genetically modified crop trials on a west Wales farm have been postponed indefinitely after a landowner accused the government had been sending out mixed messages about the trials.

Farmer Tony Marlow said that the trial at Mathry in Pembrokeshire, had been called off because of a "a deceitful and distorted campaign of misinformation."

Mo Mowlam has given encouragement while Michael Meacher has undermined the scheme

GM farmer Tony Marlow

The Welsh Assembly had been battling to keep Wales GM free and this latest development has been welcomed by Welsh Rural Affairs Minister Carwyn Jones.

Plans to sow a the GM fodder maize trial crop at Castle Cenlas Farm had also faced significant local opposition.

Organic farmers in the area in particular feared they might lose their hard fought commercial advantage if customers suspected contamination.

Over a 100 demonstrators concerned about cross-pollination held a protest on Monday.

They are said to be jubilant at the news that the trials have been withdrawn.

A statement from contractors Raymond Bros and Mr Marlow said: "It would be unfair to proceed at this time."

It claimed farmers had been "wrongly led to believe that the value of their commercial crops and livestock products would be put at risk by proceeding with the trial of GM maize.

"The government has woefully failed to provide, with Cabinet Minister Mo Mowlem giving every encouragement while Michael Meacher has done all he can to undermine the scheme," it continued.

Protestors had called on UK Environment Minister Mr Meacher to halt the trials after he questioned the location of a GM test site in Warwickshire.

Decision welcomed

Meanwhile Carwyn Jones said he was heartened that the views of people in Pembrokeshire led to a change of heart.

Landowner Tony Marlow
Tony Marlow's fields were ready for planting
The other political parties in Wales all backed the postponement. Liberal Democrat agriculture spokesman Mick Bates said the decision called into question the validity of the Flintshire trial.

Peaceful protestors had been planning a legal injunction against the proposed tests in Pembrokeshire and had been staging fund-raising events to finance a barrister.

Even though Mr Marlow had listened to their concerns had previously been determined to go ahead with the planting of fodder maize.

Meanwhile trials at a farm in Sealand in Flintshire, where GM seeds were sown on Saturday, are still going ahead.

I am urging Mr Cottle to rethink his decision and destroy the GM crop that he has planted

Tom Middlehurst, Alyn and Deeside AM

Farmer John Cottle was also standing firm on his belief the trials on his Birchenfield Farm at Sealand were necessary and would prove harmless.

Tom Middlehurst, the assembly member for the area, has called on Mr Cottle to halt the trial taking place on his land by tearing up the seed planted at the weekend.

"At the end of the day, we just do not know what environmental consequences can occur from GM crops," Mr Middlehurst said.

"I am urging Mr Cottle to rethink his decision and destroy the GM crop that he has planted."

In a letter written to the farmer on Wednesday, Mr Middlehurst said: "I know that this will not be an easy decision for you to take but I can assure you that a decision to stop this trial would be widely welcomed, not only in our area but indeed throughout Wales."

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06 May 01 | Wales
GM farmer defends seed trials
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