Greenpeace raided after GM crops are destroyed

Neil Brady

Police have raided Greenpeace's Sydney headquarters, seizing evidence relating to last week's destruction of a genetically modified wheat experiment, according to the industry website Food Navigator.

Authorities investigating the destruction of a genetically modified (GM) wheat trial at a farm in Canberra raided and seized property from Greenpeace's head offices in Sydney, Australia.

Greenpeace activists are said to have scaled a fence at the experimental farm and destroyed AU$300,000 of GM wheat last Thursday.

The incident sparked an investigation by police, and officers spent about two hours searching Greenpeace Pacific's Sydney offices.

"While we may still get something out of the experiment, the main function has been compromised as a result of the damage," said Jeremy Burdon, chief of the division at the research station.

"That puts us back a year in the programme."

Greenpeace food campaigner Laura Kelly said the organisation would not hide from the legal implications of breaking into the farm.

"Greenpeace always stands up and takes responsibility for its actions. We're proud of bringing the significant threats associated with GM wheat out into the open, and we always co-operate fully with the police," she said.

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The environmental protection group says GM crops are dangerous to public health and risk destroying natural wheat varieties and are calling on the Australian government to ban GM wheat.

However, the destruction of the crops has sparked outrage in Australia's scientific community.

"For an organisation that claims to be dedicated to the protection of the environment, this is an unconscionable act," said Suzanne Cory, president of the Australian Academy of Science.

Greenpeace has also called for an investigation into alleged links between the research station, Monsanto, and its Australian distributor, Nufarm.

It is also calling on the researchers to reveal where the funding for the GM experiments came from.

"At this point, they've rejected all of our freedom of information requests about who exactly is behind those GM wheat trials," said Ms Kelly.

However, the research farm has described the act as a media stunt, and is reviewing security arrangements.

It said that the GM trials were conducted under licences from the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator, which imposes strict containment conditions.

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