Police Investigate Spate Of Crop Destruction
Thursday, September 30, 1999
UC police have begun investigating the destruction of experimental crops at a UC Berkeley research site earlier this month and have since heightened security at several other research locations, according to university and police officials.
Police have increased their patrols of the Oxford Tract on Oxford and Virginia streets after environmental activists destroyed corn plants there on Sept. 15. Authorities are now considering using alarms and surveillance to catch the culprits, said UC police Capt. Bill Cooper.
In the past two weeks, UC police have reported at least four separate incidents of trespassing at the Oxford Tract in Berkeley and the Gill Tract in Albany.
The sites are more susceptible to attack because they are open fields as opposed to secure fields, said Rosemary Lucier, spokesperson for the College of Natural Resources.
Police are providing workshops on security for students, professors and staff at the College of Natural Resources, many of whose projects are located at the research sites, Lucier added.
In addition to the recent attacks on UC Berkeley sites, an environmental group destroyed experimental crops at UC Davis Tuesday. Police there are also planning to increase security by using high-tech surveillance, said Sgt. Kanting of the UC Police Department at Davis.
Previously, environmental activists were only targeting a select type of crop, called transgenic crops. But now they are targeting all types of crops, said Lt. Mike Adams, who is also with UC Police Department at Davis.
The broad scope of the attacks has made it more difficult to monitor the research sites, Adams said.
The UC police on the Berkeley campus have linked the attacks and are communicating with UC police in Davis, Cooper said. Nonetheless, finding the culprits has been a difficult task.
"It's kind of difficult in a case like this because there is not a lot of evidence," Cooper said. "For this kind of thing the suspects can range from young to old."
Physical evidence has been recovered from both of the UC Davis sites, Adams said. UC police also recovered evidence from the UC Berkeley research site on Oxford.
The police did say that multiple suspects were involved in the destruction of the genetically altered crops.
Genetically engineered crops have been destroyed three times at UC Berkeley research sites in the past year.
A group named "Reclaim the Seeds," claimed responsibility for damaging three genetically engineered crop research sites, including one at the Oxford tract at UC Berkeley this month and another the site at UC Davis on Tuesday.
Another group, called "California Croppers," has declared its members were responsible for two earlier incidents on UC Berkeley research facilities. The attacks occurred last September and this August at the Gill Tract.
Those involved in crop destruction are recognizing that the government has failed to do their job in regulating the genetic engineering of crops, said Jeffrey Tufenkian, a spokesperson for an environmental watchdog group called Genetix Alert.
"They are providing a wake-up call," Tufenkian said.
He added that there have been 11 incidents throughout the United States in the last three months in which environmental activists have destroyed genetically altered crops.
Other groups involved in anti-genetic engineering activism include "Seeds of Resistance" in Maine, the "Bolt Weevils" in Minnesota and the "Cropatisas," "Lodi Loppers" and "California Croppers" in California, Tufenkian said. Additionally, there are similar groups in India and parts of Europe.
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