Fortress security for GM wheat trial

 

Past two barriers of security, a mile inside the Rothamsted Research centre, I was taken to see what must be the most closely guarded field in the United Kingdom.

With groups of police and security guards dotting the lanes throughout this centre, a relatively small plot of land lies behind high steel fencing.

This is where genetically modified wheat is being grown, part of an experiment to see if the plants can repel a common pest, aphids, without having to resort to insecticide.

One of a small group of journalists, I was allowed through the fencing into the plot itself - this is crop science conducted inside a fortress.

Under a blazing sun, the earth was baked dry, and the GM wheat, a pale green, twitched and fluttered in the breeze.

The wheat is being cultivated in small squares, surrounded by other plants which will be checked to see if they are contaminated by the wheat.

The plants themselves look unremarkable and it was a strange sensation making the visit under such stringent conditions.

Walkie-talkies crackled, a police helicopter hovered overhead and acres of day-glo clothing were apparent on the guards monitoring the perimeter.

The initiative to take journalists inside the trial site is part of a major PR offensive by the scientists and their backers to be open and transparent about the research - in an effort to explain its value to the public.

The director of the centre, Professor Maurice Moloney, has been giving endless interviews this morning to describe the work.

His appeal is simple: let us do the experiment to see if this technique makes sense.

For the community of plant scientists, and its supporters in government and the wider world of science, this is a vital test of strength.

The planned protest by anti-GM campaigners, Take the Flour Back, is gathering at the edge of the centre.

Their argument is that the risks of conducting GM trials in the open are too great and that the site should be "decontaminated".

No one can be sure how this will play out. I'm off to see the protestors now.

 
David Shukman Article written by David Shukman David Shukman Science editor

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 26.

    Dan
    I wish you did yours before jumping the bandwagon.US countryside is under siege by pesticide resistant weed,now what?Roundup 2?Have you seen effects GM food has on animals?Deformities,infertility,premature death,stomach lesions etc.India has banned GM bt cotton,read why.90% Americans are demanding GM labeling.You are incredibly ignorant with your narrow minded 'that is all view'.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 25.

    How many times do the public have to say WE DO NOT WANT GM FOODS!!!!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 24.

    I see the GM lobbyists are at work on the HYS discussion. They will vote down anything that criticizes their plan for global control of all food supplies and agriculture.
    They'll ignore or deny all the evidence that we already have of the destruction wrought in the USA, the fines against farmers, the attacks on livelihoods, the corp stomping over all in it's quest for total control and profit.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 23.

    The truth is absurd, but only to those who wish to profit at the expense of humanity.
    'http://www.monsanto.com/whoweare/Pages/david-chicoine-bio.aspx'

    'http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/acnfp8008gmsoya.pdf'
    This is our government's reply quoting Brake DG and Evenson DP who work for the SDS University that Mr Chicoine is head of.
    The absurdity is the lies & deceit being perpetrated on us.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 22.

    Dicky D
    I agree entirely.There is something sinister going on if the government is ready to ignore tests like these and that is not the only test that showed dangers of GMOs.Danish farmers are reporting deformities in pigs fed GM,bloody urine, stomack lesions, you name it.There is no place for GMO is civilized society. Watch 'Seeds of deception' by Jeffrey Smith is you want to have yours opened.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 21.

    Regardless of the dangers that have CLEARLY BEEN PROVEN, the biggest threat is the corporate ownership of crops, as seen by the horrendous actions of Monsanto (US GM Crop "pusher") against farmers and the public. Monsanto is perhaps the most dangerous corporation on the planet, changing and then controlling the food supply for profit. This is insanity and must be stopped at all cost.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 20.

    Dicky D need i remind you that Corralation does not mean cause effect. One GM product does not mean another it mearly means modification thats like comparing Apples and Oranges they are both fruit. What other conditions were in these studies? Obviously the incorrect protien was used. And finally these were tested on Rats not humans. Was their research stitistically significant? Was there bias?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 19.

    Good to see the food terrorists at work. Just don't ask me to state which side are the terrorists.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 18.

    Dr.Ermakova of the Russian Academy of Sciences reported higher mortality rates and lower body weight in rats whose mothers were fed a diet of GM soy.
    2009 Brazilian study shows rats fed GM soy had changes in Uterus & reproductive cycle, changes in hormones, damage to pituitary gland, retrograde menstruation, testicular changes.
    There still are free voices warning you, please listen to them.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 17.

    I wish people would do some research into what a GM crop actually is before jumping band wagons. GM mean DNA has be changed and so all that will happen is a diffearnt protein will be made. Nothing else. This reserarch Is absaloutly vital to saving the lives of millions around the world from pests destroying crops.Also please ignore Dicky D's comment as it is absaloutly absurd in every way possible

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 16.

    These scientists don't seem to realise that growing crops in the open means that any bad effects cannot be contained. Insects fertilise the GM crops and then fly to other fields and fertilse plants there almost certainly with pollen from the GM crops. I live in the centre of a small town and have had rape oil plants spring up in my garden from seeds dropped by animals/birds.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 15.

    Ed H
    You truly have no idea what you are talking about.In US, they have been planting GM crops for years now and what are the consequences?Weed that is resistant to every pesticide know to man.Is that what you want released in your countryside.Bt GM cotton was introduced in India turning into disaster.Romania is declaring itself GM-free,90% of Americans are demanding GM labeling,nobody wants it.,

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 14.

    # 10. GM varieties that are demonstrably different from natural varieties are regulated, the ones in that study are not regulated, hence why they've spread. If the public actually understood what is happening when a plant has a gene inserted into it and how that actually translates into affecting the real world and the food produced from it, no one would bother with anti-GM protests.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 13.

    Lot's of state sponsored talk about pleading scientists & the 'need' for GM, but no mention of the Russian tests that clearly showed that GM soya causes mass infertility, raises infant morality & changes the DNA of that which eats it.
    Our government's reply to those finding was to quote tests done at a US university who's head is on the board of Monsanto.
    This is your life at stake here people.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 12.

    Food is the ultimate consumer product. I am not prepared to accept reassurances from someone whose project is being funded by vested interests. Nature is not dumb - humans often are.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 11.

    Is the Anti-GM case so weak that the only way forward is to run around like big soft kids destroying a crop?
    Yeah that's really sticking it to the man.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 10.

    GM hybridised oilseed rape (Canola) was found in 86% of samples of taken from 3,000 miles of North Dakota roadsides. The wild and GM versions have hybridised.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-10859264

    There are GM versions of food crops (and tobacco) made to produce oestrogen (for the pill) and toxic anti-cancer drugs so the possibility of hybridisation with food crops is serious.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 9.

    I am for whichever side is the one to save us from global warming. Now I won't get moderated or sneered at.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 8.

    When GM crops are sold as a product they differ from 'normal' crops in that they don't produce a seed you can use to grow the next harvest.

    This gives farmers the difficult choice of buying GM again or buying traditional seeds if possible.

    I can accept the improved strains of wheat, but not the attempts to grab a market by the throat and enslave farmers to your brand.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 7.

    Insect resitant crops sounds great but its never that simple, there has to be a reason why they are 'resistant'. In the past it was because certain insecticide like qualities were bred into the plant itself. But you then you are going to be eating this stuff which now has insecticide like qualities too it and we dont know what the effects of that will be. Its never as simple as it sounds.

 

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