'I don't think the biotechnology industry would exist without university- industry collaborations. Almost every new biotech company traces its origins directly to an agreement with a university.' - Lita Nelsen, director of technology licensing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Court Case Against GM Crop Protesters Thrown Out
June 12, 2001
Environmental protesters who cut down and trampled genetically modified maize during a protest against government trials were celebrating after the case against them was thrown out of court today. Charges of aggravated trespass against seven protesters who invaded the 33-acre field at Tolbridge Farm, near Sherborne, Dorset, on July 16 last year were dropped after Weymouth magistrates found no case to answer.
Simon Fairlie, 50, who was among the group being prosecuted, said: "It shows a recognition that people have the right to protest peacefully about something that has been imposed upon them from above without consultation."
The case collapsed after arguments that as there were no people present in the field at the time of the protest, the charge of aggravated trespass did not stand up.
Along with Mr Fairlie, fellow organic farmers David Cooper, 37, Michael Zair, 58, both of Stoke sub Hamdon, Somerset, Christopher Black, 45, of Glastonbury, Somerset, Rowan Tilly, 43, of Brighton, Jacob Hooker, 25, of Chard, Somerset, and Julie Horn, 37, of Salisbury, Wilts, protested outside the court after the case collapsed.
About a third of the crop was destroyed in the non-violent protest, which saw protesters in white protective suits and others dressed as the grim reaper carry out their action in front of police cameras.
The trial of the genetically modified maize, which covered half the field, was organised by Aventis as part of a test of herbicide resistance.
After the case was dismissed this morning following a full day of trial yesterday, protester Rowan Tilly said: "Protesting is not only right, it is our responsibility if the people meant to be looking after our affairs are not doing it for us."
The maize trial was one of 13 last year, with a further 28 this year.