squatting ge test sites

Following the decontamination of a genetic engineered test site, comes the opportunity to use some wasted agricultural land. There have been a few squatted field trials over the past couple of years. That same land that is supposed to be a GE test can be transformed to present an alternative vision for the direction of farming. Planting a model garden, testing ecological farming technique, such as companion planting or mulching. Promoting local agriculture based on diversity and community support as a way of ensuring food security.

Here follows a description of the crop squat in May 1999. The aim was to squat a GE test site which could host a solidarity action with some farmers from the InterContinental Caravan.

This was a tour organised as a platform for farmers from the south to raise awareness about the grassroots struggle against globalisation, transnational corporations, and the World Trade Organisation.

One person’s perspective

‘Those of us involved in setting up the site hadn’t slept the night before, having been maniacally preparing a plan B after being chucked off the original site by police waving section 61a and threatening to arrest us all for suspected criminal damage. That was not empowering, but gave us more determination’.

We arrived at dawn so we wouldn’t attract attention immediately. We first put up section 6 signs displaying our legal right to stay on the land as a temporary residency.

We put up our defenses to make it harder for the police to move us off the land. We had a tripod and a mono-pole built with scaffold poles, and arm tubes to intertwine people around the base of the tripod. We built benders and a dome for inside space.

A model garden was planted which showed diverse organic farming techniques, such as seed saving.

This was the powerful part of the action, to have transformed even a tiny piece of agricultural desert with comfrey, marigolds, and oak leaf mold. It was inspiring to be clearly rejecting corporate agribusiness and its GE crops, while simultaneously promoting a real alternative. We had an exhibition explaining our resistance to the industry and technology, along side a companion planting chart.

The Indian farmers arrived to some live folk music, sang some protest songs about ‘cremating’ Monsanto, sowed some buckwheat green manure, had lunch with the anarchist teapot and went back to London.

International solidarity and global resistance is worth engaging in from time to time.

Once they left, we all fell asleep, weary after being chased around by the police, who actually attempted to infiltrate our convoy at a service station in rather a hilarious manner. We had no further trouble from the police once we were set up on the final site.

So, a small group of people can do a lot in a short amount of time if they really want to. The day before we didn’t know which site we were going to. We didn’t have any plants, defenses, banners, press release, structures or anything. We just had ourselves, some imagination, determination, a mobile phone and a vehicle or two.

If you want more information about this kind of action, such as the legal situation, contact us.