Vicky Ford MEP

Member of the European Parliament for the East of England

21 MAY 2012

Eastern region MEP blasts "mindless" vandalism at GM wheat trial site in Rothamsted

Vandalism of the GM wheat trial at Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire is "a mindless ill-informed act which is bad for British science and bad news for the fight against food poverty" says Eastern Region MEP Vicky Ford.

Mrs Ford visited the crop trial last Friday and met scientists involved with the research project.

The trial has involved taking a gene which naturally occurs in spearmint and adding it to a commonly grown wheat variety. As a result, in laboratory tests the wheat has been shown to produce a smell that repels aphids, like black fly and green fly.  Aphids spread diseases especially viruses around crops rapidly and are normally controlled by spraying crops with pesticides.

Mrs Ford said: "So called campaigners have targetted this trial, claiming that pollen could cross contaminate wheat in other nearby fields. This is completely inaccurate as wheat self pollinates. I saw for myself how the crop was being grown at least 3 times the distance set by regulators. The wheat was also protected with barrier planting to prevent wind blowing the pollen.

"Britain has some of the strongest regulations on the planet to cover these sort of trials and in the east of England we also have suitable climate and soil types which make our corner of the globe one of the most successful places for food and crop
research. However, unnecessary and destructive actions like this just mean scientists move their research programs overseas to less regulated countries.

"People who care about the environment should be pleased that scientists are seriously looking ways to reduce use of pesticides. People who care about food poverty and food security should be encouraging the UK to do all it can to ensure well regulated science and properly controlled seed trials. This vandalism is a bad sign for those of us who care about food poverty and care about the environment and British science."

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My Political Priorities

Economic Stability must come first. Without a strong economy we can not deliver a strong society. I work with businesses and consumers to keep Britain open for business, cutting red tape, boosting trade opportunities and helping to deliver jobs and growth for all.

I support Science and Research which is key to delivering better medical care, healthy food as well as the Innovation and Creative Industries which bring improved lifestyles for all our families.

Strong home Security is vital in today's uncertain world, which requires robust policing and defence and deep international relationships that we can depend on. I work with others to achieve this.

I care about the Countryside and the Environment and making sure that rural and urban communities flourish.