At Rothamsted Research they're developing a genetically modified wheat that can repel insect pests by emitting a natural repellent, thus obviating the need for pesticides. Three weeks ago we heard about a group of green activists calling themselves Take the Flour Back who vowed to trash the place, because...well, because that's what green activists do. You can read more about the controversy here, plus a Nature editorial here.
The destruction was planned for the 27th May. But now:
A man has been charged with criminal damage following a break-in at the Rothamsted Research centre where a trial of GM wheat is being held.
Rothamsted said that crops had been vandalised, causing "significant" damage.
The incident took place on Sunday morning at the centre's test site in Harpenden, Hertfordshire.
The project aims to see whether the modified crops can deter aphids - a major wheat pest.
Rothamsted has previously pleaded with anti-GM campaigners not to destroy their experimental plots, which they say could help reduce pesticide use.
But opponents of GM technology claim that planting the crops in the open air would allow modified pollen to get out into the surrounding environment.
Rothamsted have issued a statement:
This vandalism is consistent with the threats made by the protest group "take the flour back" and despite our best efforts to engage with them over recent months we are disappointed by this course of action, attempting to destroy our scientific experiment through illegal activity.
The trial has been approved by the independent Government advisory group, ACRE (the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment), who said it was "satisfied that all appropriate measures have been taken to avoid adverse effects to human health and the environment from the proposed release" back in September 2011.”
Director Maurice Moloney said “This act of vandalism has attempted to deny us all the opportunity to gather knowledge and evidence, for current and future generations, on one possible technological alternative approach to get plants to defend themselves and therefore reduce pesticide use.
More links at sense about science.