In advance of action by demonstrators planned for the site this Sunday (May 27), Creagh told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “While we support the right of peaceful protest against GM crops, we deplore vandalism and condemn attempts to destroy the current trial.”
The crop being trialled at Rothamsted contains genes synthesised in the laboratory. It will produce a pheromone called E-beta-farnesene, which is normally emitted by aphids when they are threatened by something. When ahphids smell it, they fly away.
Anti-GM group Take the Flour Back has vowed to “decontaminate” the site unless the research is halted.
It is concerned that the open-air trial poses a contamination threat to the UK wheat industry and the local environment. Its website warns that the trial will jeopardise nearby non-GM field experiments such as The Park Grass Meadown biodiversity trial and The Broadbalk experiment, which was set up in 1843.
“We are appalled that Rothamsted are jeopardising the integrity of this scientific inheritance by planting GM wheat metres away from it despite the risk of cross-contamination,” it stated.
It has arranged a “decontamination” action day on May 27, with transport organised from various parts of the UK.
Creagh told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “Labour has an open mind on GM, and we support a sensible science-led debate about the role it can play in helping increase food production. Rothamsted’s pest-resistant wheat trial is publicly funded and has been approved by the independent Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment.”