On Saturday 22 January concerned citizens took the shoppers
of Hemel Hempstead by storm when they appeared in the Marlowes shopping
centre dressed in bee costumes. The GMO Campaign carnival float turned
out with beehives on board to higlight the near-certain pollution of
Herffordshire honey. Local Labour MP, Tony McWalter-- who rejects the
Blair line of forcing genetic engineering on the British countryside
-- signed the petition to stop this crop and pledged support for the
Hemel MP Tony McWalter at the Action day on 22nd January in the Marlowes.
HEMEL MEPSTEAD GM ACTION GROUP
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A 25 acre field of Genetically Modified Oilseed Rape has been secretly
planted at Wood Farm, Dodds Lane, Picotts End, north of Hemel Hempstead,
one of 3 sites in the whole of England. The other 2 are in Lincolnshire.
It is owned by German biotechnology giant Agrevo, a joint venture between
Hoechst and Schering.
The crop is resistant to the herbicide Liberty (glufosinate-ammonium).
It can be destroyed by weedkillers such as Roundup or Paraquat. The
farmer is Bob Fiddaman. His telephone number is 01442 242907, fax 01442
233994. A second smaller site of about 400 square metres has been planted
at the same farm as a seed trial, part of the process of bringing the
GM seed into commercial production.
The crop is certain to contaminate wild plants - natural brassicas such
as wild mustard, wild radish and wild turnip, and may pass on their
resistance to weedkiller to create superweeds.
Insect dispersal of pollen over several miles will occur and lead to
pollution of locally produced honey. New toxins and allergens may be
Labour MP Robin Corbett lives in Picotts End. Like Tony Blair he is
pro GM food. However Hemel MP Tony McWalter has told us that he supports
our petition. We are waiting to hear from Tring and Berko MP Richard
The seeds are believed to have been planted on Thursday 9th September.
On 17th September the Environment Minister (and old boy of Berkhamsted
School) Michael Meacher admitted that the sowing was illegal as no fresh
application for Government consent has been made. Instead the existing
consent to grow spring crops had been illegally extended by the Government.
On 22nd September the Gazette announced that the FOE legal challenge
had resulted in the ending of the "scientific experiment"
but the crop remains.We now believe that the "experiment"
is continuing. However it looks only at the effects of weedkillers on
wildlife and does not consider the potentially disastrous effects of
releasing genetically modified material. The experiment is being conducted
by Ian Woiwod of Rothamsted.
Protestors have formed an action group from which to launch a more effective
campaign. The Hemel Hempstead G M Action Group brings together a number
of organisations and individuals who are concerned about the threat
to our health and our environment .
The action group builds on the success of a public debate on 27th September
at the Friends Meeting House in the Old Town.which was packed out and
a petition which has been enthusiastically supported. Over three thousand
signatures have been gathered and it is hoped to gather many more to
present to Environment
Minister Michael Meacher in the New Year. Clair Smith is Petition Coordinator.
Clair can be contacted at email@example.com.
The programme of events includes Action Days in town centres and vigils
at the farm culminating in a rally at the GM site on Sunday 2nd April
which will attract protestors from all over the country. Committee member
Noah Tucker from the Genetic Alliance said "there is a good chance
that this crop will not survive to reach the pollination stage. Offers
of help and support are coming in andmore are welcome."
The next Day of Action will be in St Albans on Saturday 26th February
2000. All are invited to come along and join in. For more information
contact Carol Marshall on 01442 398005 or Sylvia Davison on 01442 252782.
There is going to be a public debate at West Herts College, Hemel Hempstead
on Friday 18th February featuring Dr Mae Wan Ho, Bob Fiddaman, Tony
McWalter MP and Dr Peter Luttman of Rothamsted. This should be a first
"Once released into the environment, unlike a BSE epidemic or chemical
spill, genetic mistakes cannot be contained, recalled or cleaned up,
but will be passed on to all future generations indefinitely".
- Dr Michael Antoniou, Clinical Geneticist & Senior Lecturer in
Molecular Pathology, London.
9 APRIL 2000
NATIONAL PICNIC - HEMEL HEMPSTEAD
26 FEB 2000 STOP
THE HEMEL GM CROP DAY OF ACTION
18 FEB 2000 PUBLIC
DEBATE ON GM FOOD, HEMEL HEMPSTEAD