GM wheat vandalism will ‘not affect progress’

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags science European union

Anti-GM activists plan protests at Rothamsted on May 27
Anti-GM activists plan protests at Rothamsted on May 27
Vandalism of a genetically modified (GM) wheat trial yesterday morning (May 20) at Rothamsted Research centre, Herefordshire will not affect the progress of the experiment that could improve yields and cut costs, a spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk.

The focus of the attack was a GM wheat trial, which was designed to boost output while removing the need for insecticides. The project aimed to test how successfully GM wheat can deter aphid pests while attracting their predators.

“It very frustrating that we have to spend so much time defending the trial rather than concentrating on the science,”​ he said. “We are conducting world-leading science and yet we continue to receive threats that contain disturbing language.”

The non-commercial trial is being sponsored by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Video plea

Earlier this month scientists at Rothamsted issued a video plea to anti-GM campaigners not to damage trial plots and join a debate about the science.

The protesters declined an invitation to meet the scientists.

The video was in response to activists calling themselves ‘Take the Flour Back’. The group invited the public to join them in a mass “decontamination” of the site on May 27.

The campaigners claimed that planting the crops in the open air would allow modified pollen to reach the surrounding environment.

After the break-in, a man was charged with causing criminal damage at the research centre. The 50-year-old man – who has not been linked to the campaign group – is to appear at the Central Magistrates Court on July 13.

Meanwhile, the Food and Drink Federation said recently that food manufacturers could not afford to ignore the contribution GM science could make to the industry.

Unbiased debate

Barbara Gallani, FDF’s director of food safety and science, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: it was time to reopen an "unbiased debate”​ about GM.

“We are concerned that the current situation in the EU is unsustainable​,” said Gallani. “And we believe that EU governments and regulatory authorities should base their decisions regarding GM on safety and science, acknowledging and supporting the stringent assessment and approval procedures already in place in Europe.”

FDF president Jim Moseley claimed recently: “Surely the time is right for us to have the debate about new technologies both here and in Europe.”

Earlier this month, FoodManufacture.co.uk reported that food manufacturers and retailers will find it increasingly difficult to source GM-free ingredients at reasonable prices if Europe continues to reject the controversial technology.

To read the full article, click here​.

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