|16 JULY 2000 SURGE - GM FARMSCALE TRIAL PROTEST
Southern Union of Resistance to Genetic Engineering,
facilitating a protest against the only GM Farmscale Trial in the
of England. The site is fifty acres of Maize, a split field site,
Glufosinate resistant, half non-GM.
On Sunday 16th.July we welcome everyone to meet at Nether Compton Village
Hall car park from 1.00 pm.
There will be music, (Seize The Day, and more!) and speakers followed
walk across the site, which has a footpath running across it.
All concerned citizens are invited and we welcome families and children.
Please bring a picnic lunch.
Find England, then Dorset, then Sherborne, from Sherborne take the A30
signposted Yeovil. A couple of miles down the road, on the right, is
signpost to Nether Compton. Follow the lanes for approx. four miles
village hall. The turning to the field is about three miles after the
Nether Compton turning and is signposted, Over Compton. The site is
corner of this turning and borders the A30. Look for the bit without
SURGE is a loose coalition of concerned citizens and is not affiliated
any particular organisation.
Report from SURGE
So, there are thousands of people waiting with bated breath to find
out what happened at Over Compton today...take a breath, we don't want
We had a fantastic day - positive, peaceful, non-violent and extremely
well supported by a broad cross-section of the community.
300 people attend the rally at Nether Compton Village Hall, we enjoyed
the dulcet tones of George Monbiot and the authoritative voice of Luke
Anderson, a heartfelt plea to support beekeepers in their fight against
Genetic Contamination and in the interest of impartiality afforded a
voice to the Grim Reaper speaking on behalf of the bio-tech corporations,
(well, this 'ain't no "Back to Nature Show")
Entertained by heavenly music, we began our walk to the GM site. The
media presence, was almost alarming, the BBC were there all day as were
journalists including local and national TV, Radio and Newspaper reporters.
Listening to Radio 4 this evening, my heart lifted at how a small group
of people could, in a fortnight, raise public awareness of Genetic engineering.
Post picnic, music and speeches a huge number of people enjoyed a gentle
stroll through the beautiful Dorset Countryside. We met with no uniformed
folk along the way.
On arrival at the field, Three Grim Reapers led approximately 100 people
onto the site, their energies were then focused on decontamination,
we estimate 15% of the crop has been destroyed. A significant dent in
the fifty acres of maize.
Many enthusiastic people, who had been empowered by their first experience
of direct action wanted to know when the next "picnic" is...
SURGE was overwhelmed by the peaceful support of the police. Observers
heard the following from the chaps in blue: "You go up the footpath
if you want to get into the field and up the lane if you want to watch."
I was amazed that the police stood to one side to allow people to enter
The de-contamination process lasted for about forty-five minutes before
police entered the site and arrested seven people ~ all of whom have
been released without charge as of 22.00 this evening.
A local Organic grower and SURGE co-ordinator, was released from custody
at 22.00 hours this evening, when asked what his experience was, he
commented, "all the police were really friendly and quite pucker
really." To date, all decontamination participants, bar one, have
been released without charge. The only detainee is a GenetiX Snowball
member who is in total control of the situation.
SURGE would like to thank all those who attended, we are extremely
grateful for your support.
It is a privilege to have been involved with this campaign and we are
pleased everyone had such an enjoyable day. You are all welcome to visit
Over Compton again! Please bring your strimmers next time, scythes can
only manage so much.
Report from the BBC
Some protesters were arrested after invading field of GM crops
Dozens of anti-GM demonstrators invaded a field and began destroying
a trial crop of maize before they were stopped by police.
About 50 protesters climbed into the 50-acre field at Over Compton,
near Sherborne, Dorset, and began flattening sections of the crop before
officers moved in.
Around seven of the demonstrators were arrested, although Dorset Police
would not confirm the exact number detained.
The demonstration began peacefully when up to 300 campaigners, including
young children and pensioners, gathered at the village hall in Nether
Compton for a rally and picnic before walking the mile to the controversial
field - the only GM trial in the south west.
Several were dressed as Grim Reapers carrying huge scythes. Others carried
placards and banged drums.
When the group arrived at the field, about a quarter scaled the gates
despite the presence of the police officers and the force helicopter.
Protester Charlotte Green, 28, said she had driven from Devon to join
the 300-strong gathering.
"It is an important issue," she said. "I think it is
terrible that this is going on and the protests are just a way of making
sure people are aware of what is happening a few miles from where they
Mark Howard, spokesman for the direct action campaign group SURGE (Southern
Union of Resistance to Genetic Engineering), which took part in the
said: "These crops are dangerous and as far as we are concerned
it is like the BSE crisis in its implications.
"We don't want any scientific experiments on GM crops to take place
because we cannot control them. They are already contaminating other
organic crops in the area."
Sunday's protest follows East Dorset District Council's recent decision
to look into the planning regulations surrounding the tests at Over
Compton which was set up three months ago.
Although the site has permission for agricultural use, anti-GM campaigners
say technically it is being used for scientific experiments and is therefore
in breach of local
authority planning policy.
East Dorset District Council is to meet on August 1 to discuss the issue
which could end up as a test case undermining the Government's GM crop
tests currently running across the country.
Farmer Brian Lock, who owns the field, declined to comment.