A UK grassroots group called Take the Flour Back comprising farmers, growers, bakers, scientists, beekeepers and allotment holders are protesting against an aphid resistant GM wheat trial under way at Rothamsted Research Station in Herfordshire.
The wheat strain called Cadenza has been engineered using two chemically synthesised genes, which according to the application for permission to run the trial are “not found naturally”.
One produces a smell similar to mint, which is meant to keep aphids at bay, while attracting their natural predator, the wasp. The other is a synthetic gene similar to one commonly found in cows. This is the first synthetic copy of an animal gene used in a GM trial.
Wheat is wind-pollinated and the application for the trial, say the campaigners, acknowledges the possibility of seeds being carried off site by wild birds and small mammals, and pollen being carried away by the wind
DEFRA, however chose to ignore any potential risks of releasing synthetic genetic material into the wild, and has spent £1.28 million of public money on eight small plots of wheat, which are under tight security, costing a further £120,000.
Not in our fields
GM wheat has already been rejected in the USA and in Canada where there is no longer any organic oilseed rape because of cross contamination with GM rapeseed.
La Via Campesina, an international movement representing peasant farmers, say GM is increasing world hunger. They have called for support in resisting the spread of GM crops, and the control over agriculture that biotechnology gives to corporations.
The campaign to stop the trial and stop GM wheat from being grown in the UK is supported by several high profile individuals including the Gaia Foundation. The Community Food Growers Network, the Bees Action Network and Dr Vandana Shiva.
The move confirms what has been apparent to GM-watchers for years – there is no market for GM wheat in the UK. Consumers don’t want it, bakers won’t use it. So why is taxpayers money being used to fund it?
Join the movement
Take the Flour Back is inviting people to meet at midday on Sunday 27th May outside Rothamstead to try to halt the trial, which is open to the surrounding environment.
There will be a picnic, music and importantly for the campaign what is euphemistically called a ‘decontamination’ – where protesters en masse pull up the growing wheat before it can begin to cross-pollinate with other crops. It’s a day for anyone who feels able to publicly help remove this threat and those who want to show their support for them.
The campaign has issued an open letter to Rothamsted scientists who they hope will agree discuss the wheat trial with protestors before the day of action which will take place at Rothamsted Park, Harpenden, Herts (30 mins from London by train) 12 noon on 27th May. At 1.30pm those attending will take a 20 minute stroll on public footpaths to the trial site.
You can watch the Take the Flour Back video on our video player here.
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