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Despite Surveillance Crop Sabotage in UK Continues

The Guardian (London)
August 8, 2001
Despite Surveillance Crop Sabotage in UK Continues

BY: John Vidal

Jim Dutton's genetically modified maize field at Sunnymead farm near
Wivenhoe, Essex, is thought to hold the record for the number of times
protesters have tried to trash it.
In the past few weeks there have been at least 12 night-time attempts and
one daylight foray to destroy the government test trial.
The raids have attracted protesters from all over, but have also proved
unmissable to Essex police, officials from the GM crop company Aventis and a
mass of hi-tech and low-tech surveillance equipment. Helicopters routinely
swoop on the fields, infrared sensors have been installed, and security
guards and car patrols introduced, along with dogs and CCTV cameras hidden
in bird boxes.

But despite the effort to stop the almost nightly attacks, only three people
have been charged so far - for criminal damage worth 20p.
So crowded has Mr Dutton's field been at times that protesters, guards,
police and dogs have almost fallen over one another. On July 17, said one
protester yesterday, there were at least two groups of crop pullers at work
at the same time. It was a bit crazy. No one knew what was going on. No one
knows how many attempts have been made on it.'
The hi-tech and low-tech airborne and ground surveillance is not thought to
have been a great success. Aventis said that at least 75% of the crop had
been destroyed and the protesters claimed they were able to dodge the CCTV
camera after children discovered its lens sticking out of the bird box with
an aerial coming out of the top.

The protesters say they have hidden under tractors to avoid helicopters'
heat-seeking devices.

How much more of our taxes will be wasted on a GM crop trial no one wants?'
asked Andy Abbott, a protester. Police claim to lack resources, but when
they want to protect a mutant crop that no one wants there's suddenly a
bottomless pit of cash.'

Mr Dutton has been growing GM crops for Aventis for two years, despite, as
polls suggest, the 88% local opposition. Special report on GM at
guardian.co.uk/gmdebate

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