Vicky Ford MEP

Member of the European Parliament for the East of England

18 MAY 2012

MEP backs wheat research programme

Vicky Ford MEP, member of the Industry, Research and Energy Committee in the European Parliament, went to visit the agricultural science facility at Rothamsted Research today to see first hand the trial they are carrying out on genetically modified wheat.

The wheat trial aims to develop a type of wheat that is resistant to aphids, serious pests which damage crops and can spread plant diseases. This wheat would require the use of fewer pesticides, a benefit to both the environment and to farmers around the world.

However, activists are planning to destroy this crop on 27th May in protest of the trial. They are concerned that the trial will lead to cross-contamination of other plants which they believe could pose a risk to farmers and to public health.

Rothamsted have actively tried to encourage an open debate on the issue, publishing an open letter in which they welcomed the opportunity to show protesters their work and explain the potential benefits it could bring.

Mrs Ford, MEP for Eastern England and Conservative research spokesman in the European Parliament, said: "I have seen the trial at Rothamsted myself and it is being run in a contained and managed way with no risk of contamination of other wheat plantations. The wheat is planted three times further away from other fields than the recommended maximum and 30 times further away than that which is permitted for normal seed breeders.

"The UK and the EU have the strongest regulations in place to allow research into GM crops to happen in the safest possible way. If it is not allowed to take place here, it will only end up happening in less safe places. British jobs will be lost and scientists will leave.

"Activists should think again before burning British crops, especially when the aim of trials like these is to help feed the world
population and to protect the planet from the overuse of pesticides and other chemicals. Because of these activists hundreds of thousands of pounds of tax payers' money will be spent on security. Money that could be spent on health, food or energy research.

"Not all GM crops are good, but not all of them are bad either. We must be more intelligent in our approach."

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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.