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Last Updated: Monday, 13 October, 2003, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
Tractor farmer leads protest
Tractor protest
Gerald Miles wants Wales declared a GM crop free zone
A west Wales farmer has made it to London by tractor in time to lead a protest against genetically modified crops.

Gerald Miles has spent the past week travelling 349 miles at a top speed of 18 mph to take part in Monday's parade.

The 55-year-old organic farmer made the trek to drum up opposition to GM food and crops.

The protest comes days before the results of UK Government trials of GM maize are announced.

Everywhere we have been there has been a wonderful welcome
Gerald Miles

Mr Miles left the village square in Mathry, Pembrokeshire, early last Monday and his route took him through Swansea and Cardiff to London, with a detour via Birmingham.

He said: "I have felt every bump but it has certainly been worthwhile.

"The support we have had has been wonderful. It's been much stronger than I thought it would be before I started last Monday.

Weedkillers

"Everywhere we have been there has been a wonderful welcome and out on the road drivers have been sounding their horns in support.

"It has shown how concerned people in Wales are about GM crops."

His will be one of five tractors that will lead the parade from the National Farmers Union headquarters, to Downing Street and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Gerald Miles
Gerald Miles drove through Carmarthen, Swansea and Cardiff

There protesters will hand in messages opposing GM.

The government is set to announce the results of field trials on GM farming on Thursday.

The tests compare use of weedkillers on GM and non-GM maize production, and are expected to show that GM farming is more eco-friendly.

But former environment minister Michael Meacher, who set up the trials, has launched an attack on the tests, claiming a recent EU weedkiller ban rendered the results invalid.

'Nail in the coffin'

"We need to try the trials again with a different herbicide to see what the comparison is between that and the GM one," he said.

"I cannot see that the government could logically, consistently, or morally go ahead when the comparison is exposed to everybody as not being a valid or a real one."

Mr Miles, a member of the Farmers' Union of Wales, said the introduction of GM crops would be "another nail in the coffin of farming in Wales."

He added: "Shoppers don't want to buy GM foods, supermarkets don't want to sell it and farmers don't want to grow it."

Mr Meacher will be the guest speaker at an anti-GM rally in Carmarthen on Friday organised by Farming and Livestock Concern UK, the FUW and Carmarthen Gene Concern.

It takes place at St Peter's Hall at 19.30BST.


SEE ALSO:
Farmer's anti-GM tractor trek
06 Oct 03  |  South West Wales
GM activists plan London parade
13 Oct 03  |  Science/Nature
Councils urged to go GM-free
26 Aug 03  |  Wales
GM turn-off for shoppers
07 Aug 03  |  Wales
National Trust urges GM boycott
11 May 03  |  Science/Nature


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