Tag Archives: Rothamsted

Taxpayers unwittingly fund GM trials as the prospect of leaving wiser European counsellors looms

29 Mar

Will agri-business ultimately be allowed to charge ahead, imposing genetically modified food on an unwilling public?

Yesterday Farming Today, whose sylvan banners (one example above) indicate a preference for traditional farming whilst the actual programmes often court the worst establishment proposals, reported that a new GM wheat trial has been planted at the Rothamstead research centre in Hertfordshire.

It was advocated – yet again – as needed to feed the world’s poor. Hunger is due to the poor lacking land to produce food or money to buy it. Will Monsanto etc be giving food free of charge?

Last November, Clive Cookson, FT Science Editor, had reported on this plan to grow a crop of wheat that has been genetically modified in the spring of 2017 at Rothamsted, alongside non-GM wheat of the same Cadenza variety, as a control.

The work is publicly funded through a £696,000 grant from the government’s UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and $294,000 from the US Department of Agriculture. Other partners include the universities of Lancaster and Illinois.

This is Rothamsted research centre, one of the country’s largest agricultural research stations.

Cookson adds that when the crop is harvested at the end of the summer, the researchers will discover whether genetic modification raises the yield in the field by as much as it did in trials carried out so far under glass. Rothamsted hopes this will work better than its last GM field trial of wheat genetically modified to repel aphids by giving off an alarming scent which worked well in the greenhouse but in a field trial it failed to show any crop protection benefits over conventional wheat. Malcolm Hawkesford, head of plant biology and crop science at Rothamsted, said the negative outcome showed how important it is to carry out field trials to confirm laboratory studies.

Earlier in March, news was received that the Organic Research Centre joined 32 other organisations in a letter to DEFRA which asked that the application from the Sainsbury Laboratory to release genetically modified (GM) and possibly blight-resistant potatoes be refused.

The tubers produced by the transgenic plants released will not be used for animal feed and will be destroyed following harvest, according to a government website.

Potato blight can be combated through conventional breeding and cultural methods

The letter, co-ordinated by GM Freeze, sets out the reasons why they believe that this trial should not go ahead, including the charge that the applicant has neglected to consider a number of serious and complex hazards, that the trial represents a significant risk and will not benefit society, that genetic modification is not necessary for blight resistance and that there is no market for GM potatoes.






UK government permits GM trial: Chinese Military Command bans GM food

14 May

bbsrc header biosciences

The BBSRC website announces that DEFRA has granted Rothamsted Research permission to conduct a field trial of Camelina plants that have been genetically modified to produce omega-3 oils that may provide health, environmental and societal benefits. It will form part of the BBSRC publicly funded programme of work, ‘Seeds for nutrition and health’ that is being carried out at Rothamsted.

Owen Paterson and David Cameron please note: China’s Military Command has just banned GMO staple food and oil from its army’s diet

This was done in order to assure the health of military members and safety of their drinks and food, because of safety concerns about GMO grain and oil products in China at present.

chinese army food

Google Translate’s version of a Chinese blog says that the Guangzhou Military Command Joint Logistics Department and the Provincial Military Grain & Food Oil Supply Center, announced on May 6th that from this date all military supply stations will be allowed to purchase only non-GMO grain and food oil products from the designated processing enterprises.

They are considering what to decide about the diet of education bureaus and departments, all canteens of primary and middle schools and universities. The standard established by the State Food & Drug Administration Bureau for infant formula powder allowing to add chemically extracted GM soybean oil and GM soybean protein powder is also being questioned.

A campaigning group adds: “This move by the Chinese army is being seen as yet another step towards the Chinese government’s expected ban on the import of all GMO grains and oilseeds within the next 2 years, due to growing public concern over GMOs. The expected ban would be a huge blow to the biotech industry worldwide”.

Radio 4 smoothing the way for GM crops? Skewed interviewing by Charlotte Smith

1 Mar

farming today header

A sad awakening to hear on Farming Today, by chance, the poorest exchange on GM technology it is possible to imagine – inaccurately billed as an ‘exploration’: 

farming today blurb

Fifteen years ago in the late ‘90s, Radio 4’s Farming Today ‘faced the chop’ because of its courageous, truthful coverage of BSE and FMD issues and is now bland and establishment-friendly, proud that its ‘the rural agenda’ – and that of Countryfile – has made countryside “relevant to people’s lives as both a playground and a source of affordable and safe food.”

Note the playground is given first priority, when food – the staff of life – is placed second – a long way behind tourism and the import-export merry-go-round promoted by government and probably all ‘mainstream’ political parties.

Charlotte’s leading questions and comments, emotional not rational, included:

  • Are we holding back progress?
  • Is regulatory process hampering the development of GM crops?
  • We need GM crops to feed the world (quoting Mark Walport) – a theory discredited by facts presented by many, including geneticist Dr Michael Antoniou.

This notion of progress was used  in the 60s to build defective concrete tower blocks and justify other dubious projects – and now the taxpayer levied HS2.

Charlotte asserted that the rest of the world is using the technology (mainly for animal feed) but look at the pro-biotech ISAAA’s table:

GMO using conutires

The Rothamsted advocate could not have been given an easier ride

One of Charlotte’s opening remarks was “We need progress”  –  but surely not progress towards resistant weeds, insect pests and damage to health. None of these problems were even mentioned by the opponent of GM crops from the Soil Association. Were guidelines been imposed beforehand as a condition of appearing?


MH 2 & farmer from MissouriThe BBC is challenged to invite farmer Michael Hart to speak in such a debate.

No laboratory scientist, in his short documentary he investigated the reality of farming genetically modified crops in the USA ten years after their introduction. He travelled across the US interviewing farmers and other specialists about their experiences of growing GM.

During the making of the film he heard problems of the ever-increasing costs of seeds and chemicals to weeds becoming resistant to herbicides.

The BBC is also challenged to present the facts about the high levels of ill health in a generation of Americans ‘nourished’ on meat from cattle fed GM maize and soy.

revolving_doorOr would this present too many obstacles to acceptance of GM technology, end the hospitality to media and close the biotech industry’s revolving door to the public relations sector, scientists and politicians?