Activist in GM import protest

By David GreenA GREENPEACE activist from East Anglia has told of her part in an invasion of a ship carrying GM maize.Nicole Cook, from South Elmham, was one of three activists who hung on to the exterior ladders of the 125,000-tonne MV Etoile to prevent a pilot boarding and steering the ship to its berth in Bristol last week.

By David Green

A GREENPEACE activist from East Anglia has told of her part in an invasion of a ship carrying GM maize.

Nicole Cook, from South Elmham, was one of three activists who hung on to the exterior ladders of the 125,000-tonne MV Etoile to prevent a pilot boarding and steering the ship to its berth in Bristol last week.

The Panamanian-registered vessel was forced to drop anchor instead in Cardiff Bay. The protest, which lasted for more than 24 hours and eventually involved more than a dozen Greenpeace supporters, ended when police made arrests.


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Ms Cook, who has taken part in other Greenpeace protests over GM food, was taken with the other activists to a police station in Cardiff and later released on bail.

She told yesterday how she and two other activists had reached the ship by powered inflatable dinghy before climbing up the side, securing themselves on the ladders used by pilots when the ship is entering or leaving port and unfurling banners stating Stop GM Imports

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Ms Cook said she and her two companions had later climbed up the ladders on to the deck of the ship and, after encountering no crew, clambered onto a small platform on the foremast.

The protest ended when the crew of a Greenpeace boat in the vicinity of the MV Etoile were arrested by police, together with other activists on board the vessel. “Greenpeace told us to come down because they could no longer monitor our safety,” she said.

After the protest had ended, the ship docked in Bristol Harbour and its cargo of GM maize was off-loaded.

Ms Cook, one of the activists who invaded the Sizewell B nuclear power station last year, said she had decided to take part in the protest to highlight the import of GM crops into the UK.

“We have been successful so far in stopping the growing of GM crops in this country, but they are still being imported,” she added.

Greenpeace claimed the GM maize being carried by the MV Etoile was destined for dairy farms that supplied milk to Sainsbury's and other food stores.

A Sainsbury's spokeswoman said the Food Standards Agency had stated there was no evidence of GM material in milk from cows given GM feed.

She added the company was to trial the sale of milk from cows given GM-free feed to see what the customer response was. “We are customer-led and if our customers prefer milk from cows not given GM feed, then we will listen to them,” said the spokeswoman.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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