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Meridian Institute

Police Foil Move to Destroy Modified Wheat

Summary posted by Meridian on 5/29/2012

Source: Financial Times (27 May 2012)

Author(s): Chris Cook

This article reports that police in the U.K. on Sunday foiled an attempt by protesters to destroy a field trial of aphid-resistant genetically modified (GM) wheat at Rothamsted Research, a government-funded institute. Some 200 marchers were from the “Take the Flour Back” group. These included Jenny Jones, the Green party’s candidate for London mayor. The article says a large contingent also came from the French anti-GM group the Faucheurs Volontaires, or “volunteer reapers.” According to the article, opponents of the trial fear the GM wheat could cross-fertilize wild plant life and nearby crops. The Rothamsted scientists say it would be almost impossible for this to happen. The article reports that the overwhelming police presence on Sunday convinced the protesters not to make any serious attempt to enter the trial site. The research institute was ringed by police officers, including mounted police, and was monitored from overhead by police helicopters. A handful of GM supporters were also present on Sunday. Stuart Agnew, a UK Independence party member of the European Parliament (MEP) who sits on the European parliament’s agricultural committee, said: “What really worries me is that they’re trying to create the precedent that crop destruction is allowed.” [According to a related article (The Guardian; May 27), Rothamsted Research scientists’ approach in responding to threats on their GM wheat field trial has won them public support. When the group Take the Flour Back declared that last Sunday would be a day of mass action to destroy the GM wheat, the scientists invited the protesters to discuss the work. They also recorded a video, in which each scientist in turn appealed directly to the campaigners not to go through with their threat. The article says this was a new strategy for crop scientists in the U.K., and “in stark contrast to the 1990s, the media overwhelmingly condemned the campaigners' threat of vandalism.”] The article can be viewed online at the link below.

The original article may still be available at http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/e5993374-a80c-11e1-b8a9-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1wIXrLtwG

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