The two trials were sparked by high-profile raids on GM crop test sites in July last year. Activists were arrested by police as they destroyed and bagged plants in a protest against "genetic pollution".
Greenpeace welcomed today's verdict with delight. "This acquittal totally vindicates our campaign to prevent genetic pollution," it said. "The government clearly cannot find a jury prepared to convict us for protecting property and the environment". All further trials of GM crops should now be halted, the group added.
British farmers, however, expressed "anger and shock" at the development. The national farmers union described the verdict as "perverse," adding: "We find it extraordinary that, even with such clear evidence, a not guilty verdict was reached. This gives the green light to wanton vandalism and trespass."
Greenpeace is now expected to seek to have its legal costs, put at UK£0.25m (euros 0.41m) paid by the prosecution service. The verdict will put more political pressure on the government's programme of "farm scale" GM crop trials, which is already mired in controversy.
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