'We stand in the Luddite legacy': Tracking Patterns of Anti-GM Crop-Trashing in the United Kingdom

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Concern over the uncertainty associated with genetically modified (GM) products from the late 1990s in the UK led to an extensive anti-GM campaign. Activists adopted a broad array of tactics from conventional protest marches and rallies through to more unconventional and confrontational actions. An important part of the protest repertoire was the physical damage and destruction of GM crops. These were intensified following the decision of the government to license a series of field scale evaluations (FSE) of GM crops intended to determine their potential impact on biodiversity. The aim of the article is to determine why crop-trashing such a significant tactic. The paper draws on a protest event catalogue of anti-GM protests over the 1996-2016 period to identify their intensity, tactics and locations. The findings suggest that crop-trashing was primarily adopted due to the availability of targets. However, it also points to the rural setting as a space in which different norms and histories provide a justification for destructive acts in the face of uncertainty.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-335
JournalJournal of Cultural Geography
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa
UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis


  • Crop-Trashing
  • Protest
  • Event Analysis
  • Genetic Modification

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