via Kate at Gaia
White Home Farm,
Lincoln. LN3 5UP
01522 514880 / 01526 398309
Rt. Hon. Nick Brown MP.,
Minister for Agriculture
We, the undersigned, are farmers scattered throughout the country. Some conventional farmers; some organic farmers. Some arable farmers; some livestock farmers; some mixed farmers. Some members of the NFU; some not. Some pro GM; some undecided.
We all share a sense of horror at the slaughter of animals caused by the outbreak of foot and mouth disease. We all watch the television news with a sense of foreboding, enormous sympathy for those affected, and a deep determination to protect our farms, our livestock and our future from this terrible disease.
In order to protect our businesses we are demanding the postponement of the field scale trials of genetically modified crops. We want an immediate halt to the planting of all the spring sown genetically modified trials and a review of how, and if, the growing winter GM trials can be monitored safely. We believe that we are right in saying that four of the proposed trial sites are within a confirmed foot and mouth exclusion zone and that nine trials are in zones of a suspected outbreak or very close to a confirmed outbreak.
There are four reasons for our demands:
1. From Sussex in the south to Scotland in the north the scientific observers will be moving between farms. Although we accept that these are responsible people who will take every precaution there is a risk that they will be spreading the disease between the farms hosting the trials.
2. The trials cause considerable local public anxiety and there is always an increase in vehicle and pedestrian traffic around the trial site as people try to identify the field that is to be planted with GM seeds from the limited information in the public notice to assess the implications for themselves. These people, although well intentioned, will walk onto farmland and into farmyards in their desire to find the site; often farmland and farmyards not owned by the host farmer. These people will not be taking the proper precautions necessary to stop the spread of foot and mouth disease.
3. Rural communities are very aware of the dangers involved in gatherings, and farmerÃ‡ÄÃ´s meetings are being cancelled all over the country. There is a requirement for consultation to take place when a GM trial is announced but without public meetings it is impossible for proper consultations to take place with the local farmers and population.
4. Farmers cannot demand that dog owners, ramblers, golfers, racegoers, tourists, bird watchers, anglers, even politicians behave responsibly and take every precaution to stop the spread of this disease when the farming industry is carrying on with a non- essential and potentially risky activity.
We recognise that in the wake of foot and mouth the farming industry will need the sympathy and support of the British public as never before, and in order to gain that support the farming industry must be able to demonstrate that it has done everything within its power to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. We believe that the risks in continuing these trials outweigh the need for these trial crops to be planted.
We add that not one farmer declined to add his name to the list below and that we believe that the vast majority of farmers, particularly livestock farmers, endorse our petition.
On behalf of:
John Turner, Castle Bytham, Lincolnshire.
An organic dairy farmer with two GM field scale trials within 1 1/2 miles of his farm.
Phone number 01780 410077
Nick Somerfield, Wales.
Livestock farmer and chairman of the Farm Union of Wales Parliamentary Committee. Phone number 01558 823367
Norman Hunter, Swaledale, North Yorkshire.
Hill farmer with sheep and suckler cows. Norman informs us that in the Dales National Park English Nature has stopped all farm visits to check SSSI and ESA claims and that the national parks wardens are keeping off the land for fear of spreading the disease.
Dick Rundall, mid Cornwall.
Livestock farmer. Phone number 01872 510366
Mike Hart, Devon.
Livestock and arable farmer, chairman of the Small and Family Farmers Alliance. Phone number 01726 843210
John Sanderson, Suffolk
Arable farmer. John was the first farmer to plough in a field of GM contaminated Hyola seed. Phone number 01986 782526
Peter Lundgren, Lincoln
Arable farmer and retailer. Phone number 01522 514880
Graham Matravers, Leics
Mixed farmer with farm shop. Graham is on the NFU organic working group.
Phone number 01509 646413
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Central Science Laboratory
Scottish Crop Research Institute
British Trust for Ornithology