GM Free Cymru

The Harrington GM Maize stunt -- lies, fantasies, and cynical mischief- making

The information below was obtained by one of Jonathan Harrington's neighbours under the FOI legislation. It proves (if we didn't know it already) that this whole thing is based upon lies and fantasies, and that Harrington has led the media up the garden path, caused mayhem in his local community, and wasted taxpayers money on a substantial scale. The costs list below just relates to Powys CC -- we wonder how much this pantomime has cost the Assembly Government as well? It is more and more apparent that Vivian Moses and CropGen were involved closely in the stunt. We should not be surprised -- certain parts of the "GM advocacy industry" have a long history of involvement in fabricated evidence, fraudulent science, and attacks on anybody or any organization that stands in the way of their commercial aspirations.

Powys County Council v JONATHAN HARRINGTON

Case Analysis Introduction

This case involved an investigation into claims by a Jonathan Harrington (via the national media) that during 2008 he grew genetically modified maize of the MON 810 variety on his holding at Pen-y-Lan, Tregoed, Velindre, Brecon, Powys. He further claimed to have supplied the harvested crop to neighbouring farmers for use as animal feed and that seed from the crop had been harvested for use for further cultivation in 2009.

As a result of these claims and numerous complaints to our service, an investigation was undertaken by Powys County Council Trading Standards Service, as the enforcement body for the various Regulations concerned in these matters. The investigation was launched in January 2009.

The investigation included putting formal questions to Jonathan Harrington.

In July 2009, after protracted attempts to get answers under caution from J Harrington, we eventually received a response to our questions in which he indicated and admitted that the growing of the GM Maize crops on his premises was not part of his business or any activity connected to that business. These responses indicated that he 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.

The investigation was completed in late July 2009 after due consideration by our Legal Services and Trading Standards Management Team.

Offences under Consideration

Feed (Hygiene and Enforcement) (Wales) Regulations 2005

1. Failure to register with the Local Authority as an animal feed producer – Article 6 (Regulation (EC) N0.183/2005 – paragraph 9)

No evidence that he had cultivated the crop and produced as feed

• Failure to maintain records for traceability purposes – Article 15(2)(d) (Regulation (EC) 178/2002 – paragraph 18(2))

No evidence that the seed was produced in the course of a business for which records would have to be maintained


Genetically Modified Animal Feed (Wales) Regulations 2004

3. Prohibition on placing on the market, using or processing a product referred to in article 15.1 (Regulation (EC) No. 1829/2003) unless it is covered by an authorisation and satisfies relevant conditions on the authorisation – Article 5(1), Schedule 1, Part 1.

No evidence that that GM seed was produced and placed on the market as required


Genetically Modified Organisms (Traceability and Labelling) (Wales) Regulations 2005

4. Failure to hold information specified in paragraphs (1), (2) and 3 (Regulation (EC) No. 1830/2003) and the identification, for a period of 5 years from each transaction, of the operator by whom and the operator to whom the products referred to in paragraph 1 have been made available – Article 6.

No evidence that the product was one requiring such information to be held or that it was produced in such circumstances that required compliance with this

Case Analysis

Based upon analysis of the legislation, Harrington’s responses to formal questions, and examination of all of the evidence available on this matter it was evident to Trading Standards Officers that Harrington had not committed any offences.

Legal Opinion

Legal advice was taken from the Powys County Council Legal Service, who reviewed this case and their advice mirrored the Trading Standards Service findings i.e. there was no evidence to warrant any formal action based on the evidence available.

Investigative Costs (Jan – Aug 2009)

Investigation Officers time £ 2,000 Administration / Management £500 Legal £300 Analytical Fees £900 Forensic Fees £500

Total £ 4,200



NB. Letter from Lee Evans (Powys CC) to Ian Panton of GM Free Cymru: Extract: "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."

See also: (1) Secret GM farmer faces prosecution calls Caroline Davies, "Farmer's secret GM crop defies green rulebook", The Guardian, 25 January 2009, accessed 27 April 2009 Farmer defies GM 'ban' -- Environmentalists see red over maize harvest in formerly GM-free Wales

(2) Jonathon Harrington, "Why I planted genetically modified maize on my Welsh farm", The Guardian, 28 January 2009 Farm consultant claims he will grow GM crops again this year, Jun 23 2009 (3)

(4) Steve Dube, "Farmer or faker?", UpCountry: An insider's view of Welsh rural life, 4 February 2009 " appears that Mr Harrington himself may not be all he claims to be. He lives so high up a mountain that even conventional fodder maize (let alone a Mediterranean GM hybrid) would not produce a decent crop. And as he is also sadly disabled, he cannot have planted or harvested the crop himself. It makes you wonder whether the whole episode was a con by Harrington and CropGen, in order to embarrass the Welsh Government. Has Mr Harrington actually grown GM plants at all? His neighbours think not." As part of the scam, Mr Harrington even issued faked photographs purporting to show the harvested GM crop.

(5) Harrington's GM con exposed -- GM planting claim was a "grubby little stunt"