Smash Genetix Action in Lincolnshire (July 1999)

As with the Greenpeace action the previous week, the Smash Genetix action was targeted at GM fodder maize. Unlike its oilseed rape, AgrEvo's GM maize already has consent to be grown in the European Union. This means that the government is under no obligation to inform the public, or other farmers or bee-keepers about where it is being grown. For this reason concerned members of the public and local agricultural producers have to play detective to find out whether their produce is at risk from contamination. Detailed research finally identified the right farm but unfortunately incorrect scientific analysis led activists to the wrong field.

Eighty activists initially outfoxed the police, and in a well co-ordinated action destroyed a field of maize. However, two hours later, the police arrived and began rounding up activists. Some managed to get away by running along ditches and hedgerows or hiding in the undergrowth, but 46 people were arrested. All were initially charged with criminal damage, as well as conspiracy to cause criminal damage, which would have meant a jury trial.

In an obviously political move the conspiracy charge was later dropped, along with all charges against 22 people. The remaining 24 have had their charges changed to the lesser charge of aggravated trespass. The court date will be 19th January 2000.

This action, more than any, highlights the secrecy with which these trials are conducted. It is evident that the government supports the interests of big business over small local producers whose products may be polluted without them even knowing.