4 May 2012
Scientists in Britain developing genetically-modified (GM) wheat have made a public plea to activists urging them not to destroy a small field of the crops and engage in a conversation with them instead.
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An anti-GM campaign group, Take the Flour Back, are planning a mass action to wreck experimental plots of a new variety of genetically-modified wheat later this month. But in a novel tactic, scientists at Rothamstead Research are asking campaigners to talk to them, rather than attack the plantation.
Professor John Pickett is the lead researcher: "Please don't destroy our crop. We'd love to continue this dialogue. We would really hope to deal with your concerns and I think we ought to move together on this. But if you destroy the crop, we will not learn anything from the very hard work that we've been putting into this project over the last thirty years."
Professor Pickett says the GM wheat will repel small insects by attracting parasitic wasps to attack the pests. He believes it is environmentally friendly as it'll result in less pesticide being used.
Since the method of changing the DNA of organisms was developed, it has split opinion into those that believe it could feed the world and those who think that fiddling with the building blocks of life could produce unintended and possibly harmful consequences. At the moment it seems that the battle will continue to be fought in the fields of Britain.
Click to hear the vocabulary
- campaign group
team of protestors with a political aim
- a mass action
a large-scale protest activity
areas of land
- a novel tactic
an unusual strategy
- ought to
chemicals to destroy insects
- fiddling with