Do or Die

An article from Do or Die Issue 6. In the paper edition, this article appears on page(s) 59.


Mutant Potatoes all out in first UK field action

In what was Britain's first action on a GM-Test site, the Super Heroes Against Genetix First XI donned their outfits yet again in their ongoing tour against the combined Pro-Genetix team. The game was played out on a potato test field site just outside Cambridge on Sunday (8th June 1997). Due to the nature of a somewhat muddy and sticky-wicket - potatoes replaced the traditional red ball. Fielders had a difficult time of it - most of the batting resulted in the 'balls' being smashed to pieces or else being lost amongst upturned soil.The entire crop of the test site was destroyed.

The successful action is seen as the first in a whole string of actions against such sites in Britain - whilst similar actions have been ongoing in Europe for some time this is the first such action in Britain and marks a further development in the campaign against GM produce.

A spokesperson for the Super Heroes - Captain Chromosone - said: "The Test Match proved a huge success if somewhat one-sided - we fielded a team of some thirty Super Heroes whilst the Cambridge team didn't even show up. It simply isn't cricket."

When contacted about the action Norman Killiam (Development Director at PBI Cambridge) was initially stumped by the scoreline: "This comes as a complete surprise to me - I don't see how this is possible." On checking the site on Monday morning, Mr Killiam predictably denied that the destroyed potatoes had been Genetically Manipulated but said instead that the potatoes had been "normal". The use of the word "normal" of course begs the question do PBI themselves consider GM-potatoes to be abnormal?

Splice Grrrl commented after the match that: "Genetic engineering adds completely new components to our diet and nobody knows fully how this will affect our health in the short and long term. Engineered grains and vegetables can trigger allergic reactions and cause toxic poisoning. Crops and weeds resistant to weed-killers will increase the use of toxic chemicals, the residues of which will accumulate in our food.

But more specifically these potatoes contain an antibiotic resistance gene. It is because of the antibiotic resistance which Ciba Geigy's (now Novatis) Bt Maize contains, that no country in the EU supports the importation or growing of the Bt maize and some are actively opposing it (Austria, Luxembourg, Italy and France). It is ridiculous that these crops are being planted in test sites all round the country when there is still so much concern about their safety."

Gene Diva meanwhile said of test sites: "Growing genetically manipulated crops releases genetic pollution into the wild. The genetically manipulated plants could cross breed with wild relatives, and so pass on some of their new characteristics. Once this has happened, it will be impossible to control or stop. That is why we felt we had to take action against these dangerous test-sites now - before they have had a chance to establish themselves in our food-chain."

For further information concerning the dangers of genetic engineering contact:

Earth First! (Manchester)
Phone: 0161 224 4846

Greenpeace UK
0171 865 8100

Test Tube Harvest Campaign
87 Worship Street

or for the latest updates in the world of Genetics get on the mailing list for the new Genetic Engineering Network Newsletter by emailing (if you aren't one of the chosen ones with all the computer shit, don't worry, it isn't all it's cracked up to be.)

Do or Die DTP/web team: