The headlines trumpeted the farmer’s contravention of Welsh GMO-Free status – but the truth received little coverage

24 May

The power to mislead and depress

To this day, the writer had accepted accounts such as the one in the Guardian – and only by accident came across information about what appears to be an  industry ‘plant’. The truth is recorded here for others who missed the revelation.

Jonathon Harrington, no ordinary farmer but – as was not made clear – a chartered biologist working in the field on advanced crop technologies and consultant for Cropgen, an organisation funded by the industry to promote crop biotechnology, claimed to have grown GMO maize on his farm in Powys, Wales, as a protest against the Welsh Assembly’s opposition to GM crops.

Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson reported on an investigation by Welsh trading standards officers which concluded there was no evidence that he did this.

Information obtained under freedom of information legislation by the campaigning group GM Free Cymru later showed that Powys County Council investigated these claims under trading standards regulations. These require labeling and traceability records to be maintained as well as registration as a seed trader. According to the information obtained by GM Free Cymru, Harrington is not registered and kept no written records.

Samples of seed supplied to the Trading Standards Service by Harrington were analysed by a Public Analyst and found not to be GM modified seed.

In a letter to GM Free Cymru, Mr Lee Evans of Powys CC said: “I can confirm that during the course of the investigation, (we found) no evidence that GM crops were grown, cultivated, circulated to any farms in the Powys area or fed to any stock in the county.”

Dr Brian John and GM Free Cymru are to be congratulated on this investigation and it is deplorable that a search reveals no correction to the first account by any mainstream news outlet – due to the powerful influence of the industry?

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