Anti-GM protest shuts down BASF UK headquarters
Eric Smith | 06.05.2008 09:06 | Bio-technology | Ecology | Cambridge | Manchester
BASF UK HQ currently completely blockaded by protesters.
This morning 30 protesters from Earth First! have shut down the BASF UK headquarters (1) at Cheadle Hulme near Manchester (2), to highlight the company's role in pushing GM onto our plates. BASF is planning to run the UK's only trial of GM crops this year, a trial of blight resistant potatoes.(3)
The protesters arrived early in the morning at the flagship offices and have since been blockading the gate by sitting in front of it and locking on sing d-locks and other equipment. They are successfully preventing any staff from entering and are demanding the company pull out of GM immediately. They have also hung a giant 30 x 10ft banner reading "No To GM". The protesters are planning to blockade the gate for several hours.
Mary Sunderland from Earth First! Said: "GM has no part to play in our future: it's a dangerous, unwanted and unproven technology geared towards maximising profits for multinational corporations such as BASF. It is not the answer to food shortages, hunger or climate change. The real solution is to change now to a sustainable farming system and to distribute resources fairly around the world."
The bio-tech industry claims GM will feed the world's poor, but experts disagree. A major new study published in April shows that modified soya produces 10 per cent less food than its conventional equivalent, confirming earlier studies showing the same trend. The study finds that the very process of modification depresses productivity.(4)
This revelation came just a week after the biggest study of its kind ever conducted,the International Assessment of Agricultural Science, concluded that GM was not an answer to world hunger. The UN study, conducted by over 400 scientists and approved by over 54 governments is a sobering account of the failure of industrial farming. The key message of the report is that small-scale farmers and agro-ecological methods provide the way forward to avert the current food crisis and deal with the effects of climate change.(5)
Neil Ross from Earth First! UK adds: "It's time for everyone who is concerned about the future of our food and environment to stand up again and to say 'No to GM'. When five years ago 86 per cent of the UK public said that they did not want GM foods the government and bio-tech industry brushed those concerns aside as unscientific. Science is now proving that we were right to oppose GM. Thanks to the courage of many ordinary people who ripped up GM crops our countryside has been GM free for the past four years. (6) We are determined to keep it that way. The message to BASF and the government couldn't be clearer. Stop wasting money on GM (7) and start investing in the real solutions to hunger: small-scale organic farming
and equitable trade."
(1)BASF is the world's leading chemical company.
(2) Heading south from Manchester on the A34 , turn right onto Stanley
Road (B5094). Take the second left onto Earl Road. Continue under the
flyover (Manchester Airport Eastern Link Road) and BASF HQ is on your
(3) The UK trials of BASF's blight resistant potatoes were due to take place
from last spring at two locations for a period of five years. One site is a
research centre in Cambridge, where last year anti-gm campaigners
succeeded in destroying the field during a night time raid. The second
trial site was never planted as BASF was unable to find a site for it.
Campaigners have already vowed to decontaminate the Cambridge site again,
should BASF go ahead with the controversial trial. Many believe that the
trials are unnecessary as blight resistant potatoes are already available
through conventional breeding.
(4) The study was carried out over the past three years by the University of
Kansas in the US grain belt and published by Professor B Gordon in the
journal 'Better Crops'. He grew a Monsanto GM soy bean resistant to the
herbicide Round-up and compared it with a conventional variety. The GM
bean produced only 70 bushels per acre compared to 77 bushels for the
(5) The report from the United Nations World Food Programme, the
International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for
Development (IAASTD) called for a back-to-basics approach to farming to
meet the challenges of climate change and escalating food prices. The
authors saw little role for GM technology in feeding the poor. The report
was based on a rigorous and peer-reviewed analysis of the empirical
evidence by hundreds of scientists and development experts.
(6) When GM crop trials started in the UK in 1998, no one could have
predicted the public opposition to it. Within just 5 years, all GM
companies including Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer had retreated from
Britain, numerous field trials had been destroyed and a moratorium against
GM crop growing had been imposed.10 years later, Britain is still free
from any commercial growing of GM crops. This opposition has also sparked
massive resistance elsewhere in Europe.
(7) Using the Freedom of Information Act Friends of the Earth managed to
obtained still partial information in October 2007 which shows that the
Government gave at least £50 million a year for research into GM crops and
food, compared with £1.6 million for research into organic agriculture
last year, in spite of repeated promises to promote environmentally friendly,
sustainable farming. http://www.i-sis.org.uk/dirty_GM_secrets.php
- e-mail: manchester[at!]earthfirst.org.uk
- Homepage: http://www.earthfirst.org.uk