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Lord Peter Melchett of England
"Lord Melchett: Arrested." Permission pending from BBC online news (Lord Melchett Aristocrat eco warrior, 1999).
While growing up on a 750 acre farm in Norfolk England Lord Peter Melchett developed a great concern for the environment. Melchett carried these concerns with him as he was educated at Eton College. He then studied law at Cambridge but was forced to discontinue his studies due to an illness of the colon. Melchett later received an MA in criminology from the University of Keels (Chaundy, 2000).
Upon his father's death in 1973, Melchett inherited the title of Lord at the early age of twenty-three (Lord Melchett Aristocrat eco-warrior, 1999). Melchett became a whip and worked as a junior minister of the Department of the Environment. He also worked as a minister of state to Northern Ireland (Chaundy, 2000). In 1979 he left the House of Lords and in 1989 Lord Melchett became executive director of Greenpeace in the United Kingdom (Chaundy, 2000).
As executive director of Greenpeace Melchett was well known for his fight against genetically modified (GM) crops. One of his more highly publicized actions against the growth of GM crops occurred in the early hours of July 26, 1999. On this morning Melchett along with 28 other members of Greenpeace partially destroyed a GM maize field located in Norfolk England (Greenpeace UK, 1999). They ripped the plants out by the roots and then bagged them in order to contain contamination. The GM crops were part of a farm-scale trial and were one week away from flowering (Greenpeace UK, 1999). All twenty-eight Greenpeace members involved in the incident were arrested on the scene that morning (Greenpeace UK, 1999). In an article on the Greenpeace website Melchett defends the actions stating "'The British public have made it very clear that they do not want these GM farm-scale trials to go ahead. It is vital that this crop is removed before it flowers, spreading GM pollution.'" (Greenpeace UK, 1999). Melchett along with all arrested members of greenpeace were later acquitted based on the claim that they were preventing pollution (Chaundy, 2000).
In 2002 Melchett again made headlines when he made an interesting career change. After resigning as executive director of Greenpeace UK in 2000 Melchett remained a member of the board. In 2002 Melchett took a job with the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller (Bridges, 2002 ). Burson-Marsteller advises large companies during crisis situations. Monsanto, a large modified food company, is among their many clients (Gm activist joins Monsanto's PR firm, 2002). As an employee for Burson-Marsteller, Lord Melchett advises companies on controversial issues, such as GM foods (Bridges, 2002). Melchett's career move created a large amount of controversy. After taking on the position he resigned from the Greenpeace board in 2002 due to a possible conflict of interests. Although he is now advising modified food companies, Melchett claims that he has not altered his views on the environment and GM crops (GM activist joins Monsanto's PR firm, 2002).
Chaundy, Bob. "Peter Melchett: Lord of the Greens." BBC News Online 26 September 2000. 26 January 2004.
"GM activist joins Monsanto's former PR firm." BBC News Online 8 January 2002. 26 January 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1748482.stm
Greenpeace UK. "Greenpeace decontaminates GM field- Lord Melchett arrested." 27 July 1999. 26 January 2004. http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/contentlookup.cfm?CFID=509535&CFTOKEN=83651345&ucidparam=19990815151501
"Lord Melchett: Aristocrat eco-warrior." BBC News Online 27 July 1999. 26 January 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/405061.stm
"Lord Peter Melchett." Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest. 16 January 2002. 26 January 2004. http://www.ictsd.org/weekly/02-01-16/story5.htm