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Saturday, 14 July, 2001, 09:47 GMT 10:47 UK
Stop trials call to GM farmer
Crop field
Farmer is convinced of benefits of GM crop trials
Campaigners against genetically-modified crops are to hold a rally on the only remaining GM trials farm in Wales.

The protesters will call on farmer John Cottle to plough up a field of GM crops at his farm in Sealand, Flintshire.

GM farmer John Cottle
John Cottle: planted GM seed
Mr Cottle refused a call from Rural Affairs Minister Carwyn Jones to abandon the trials on the English border after lobbying forced trials in Pembrokeshire to be scrapped in May.

The rally follows a meeting of the GM Free Wales Campaign group at Connah's Quay Civic Hall which is expected to attract vocal anti-GM writer George Monbiot.

The event, part of a GM 'Action Day,' will be chaired by Plaid Cymru's Euro MP Jill Evans.

'Reputation at stake'

Professor Howard Slater, a former professor of microbiology at the University of Wales and a campaigner for crop biotechnology, said attempts to halt the Sealand trials would undermine Wales's reputation as a world-class technology centre.

But even with the petition demonstrators are to hand to Mr Cottle, it is unlikely he will bow to the demands, having turned town the Minister's call.

Carwyn Jones, Rural Affairs Minister
Carwyn Jones had failed to persuade Mr Cottle
Jill Evans said: "A strong alliance is developing in Wales of groups committed to a GM-free Wales.

"It is essential that due regard is given to the democratic processes in Wales and that the wishes of our communities are respected.

"The way people from different parties and groups are working together on this campaign for a common cause is very positive indeed."

The protesters are to travel from Pembrokeshire.

The earlier trials at Castle Cenlas Farm in the county were abandoned when farmer and former MP Tony Marlow accused the government of sending misleading messages over genetically-modified food.

The organic farmers are concerned about cross-contamination but Mr Cottle remains convinced about the benefits of the trials.

Mr Cottle said he admired the organic farmers for what they are trying to achieve but he has insisted that there are environmental benefits to the trials.

George Monbiot, who was named as one of the 25 most influential people in Britain by the Evening Standard, will address the gathering on the perils of the trials.

He will join other scientists and environmentalists on the action day platform, together people involved in the successful Pembrokeshire campaign.

See also:

22 May 01 | Sci/Tech
GM crop trial abandoned
28 Aug 00 | Wales
Wales' only GM trial damaged
21 May 01 | Wales
Farmer presses on with GM trial
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