Two Australian women who broke into the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and destroyed a research crop of genetically-modified wheat with whipper-snippers have cost Greenpeace more than $280,000, a court has heard.
Jessa Latona, 35, and Heather McCabe, 48, pleaded guilty to one charge of damaging or destroying Commonwealth property. Latona and McCabe, both volunteers with the conservation group Greenpeace, scaled fences to break into a CSIRO farm at Ginninderra on July 14 last year.
The two Greenpeace volunteers filmed themselves vandalising a trial crop of wheat which had been genetically engineered to increase its nutritional value. Greenpeace then used the incident to filmed themselves vandalising a trial crop of wheat which had been genetically engineered to increase its nutritional value. Yesterday Justice Hilary Penfold said the stunt ”wasn’t particularly effective” and the women had not appreciated how much the offences would cost Greenpeace. The court heard the conservation group had paid the $280,000 reparation for the women but Justice Penfold questioned whether the payment was a sign that the pair were taking responsibility for their actions because they had suffered no financial loss in making the payment.
Commonwealth prosecutor Duncan Berents said the vandalism had a wide impact on the CSIRO, delaying the wheat trial by 12 months. Mr Berents said Latona and McCabe had limited insight into their actions and had expressed little remorse.
The court heard imprisonment was the only appropriate starting point for a sentence. The judge has delayed sentencing until October but indicate a suspended sentence is likely.