GM activists boarding the MV Etoile
Thirteen Greenpeace volunteers who stopped a shipment of genetically modified (GM) crops from entering the UK have had a charge dropped against them.
The charges alleged that our volunteers endangered the safety of the MV Etoile when they stopped it docking at Bristol to unload a cargo of GM crops in June. However, South Wales Magistrates Court decided that there was not enough evidence for a crown jury to consider the charge.
Greenpeace Campaigner Sarah North said: "We are delighted that these charges have been dropped. Greenpeace has a long history of undertaking peaceful direct actions of this nature and safety is always of paramount importance. These volunteers took non-violent direct action to prevent a cargo of GM being smuggled into our food against the wishes of the UK public. The support we've had from locals has been huge. We're very grateful."
Although some charges were dropped, the 13 defendants must still stand trial for allegedly causing a public nuisance. Judges bailed the defendants to appear at Cardiff Crown Court at a later date.
The MV Etoile, a 125,000 tonne, Panamanian-registered ship, was carrying thousands of tonnes of GM maize derivative into Bristol from the USA. The ship went to anchor in the Bristol Channel off Rhoose Point, South Wales, and was prevented from docking for 36 hours after Greenpeace climbers attached themselves to the sides of the vessel and asked the captain to turn the ship around and return its GM cargo to the US.
The chances are that this imported feed will not be labelled as GM, even though new EU labelling legislation came into force in April.
The GM maize derivative was destined for dairy farms that supply milk to Britain's biggest supermarkets. Despite promising to remove GM-fed products from their lines, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Asda and Safeway all sell own-brand milk from cows fed on American GM crops.