Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson
An investigation by Welsh trading standards officers into the claims of a farmer to have contravened Welsh GMO-Free status has concluded there was no evidence that he grew GMO maize.
Jonathon Harrington created global headlines in January of this year when he claimed to have grown GMO maize on his farm in Powys, Wales, as a protest against the Welsh Assembly’s opposition to GM crops. His story was widely reported after he claimed to have grown two varieties of maize and used them to make silage, some of which he supplied to neighbours.
However, information obtained under freedom of information legislation by the campaigning group GM Free Cymru shows 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, however, Harrington is not registered and kept no written records.
According to the County Council report Harrington “….had received a quantity of 50 seeds of two varieties of GM maize which he had used to grow crops on his holding for his own interest as a biologist, and that the crops were destroyed on his holding following harvesting. It is impossible to prove or disprove these claims. 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.”
Harrington is a member of Cropgen, a lobby group funded by the biotechnology industry.