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Failed GMO wheat trial only fits anti-GMO narrative if you don’t understand science

| | June 30, 2015
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Back in 2012, a group of clueless protesters tried to disrupt a trial of genetically-modified wheat, which was taking place in a field in Hertfordshire. The trial was the work of the excellent Rothamsted Research labs, one of the institutions responsible for Britain punching way above its weight in science.

The wheat was modified by inserting genetic material which made it smell a bit like mint. Mint smells like mint because this is a good way to deter aphids, a pest which attacks many plant species.

This worked in the lab, so the decision was made to see if it worked in the field.

But look what has happened now. The trial failed! The GM wheat did not have the same aphid-repelling properties in the open air as it did in the lab. The Greens are crowing, of course. Liz O’Neill, director of GM Freeze, said that the experiment was a ‘folly’.

But not really, not when you think about it for more than a nanosecond.

The ‘failure’ of a trial is not a ‘failure’ at all, in the conventional sense. It shows that something was wrong with the assumptions that came from the laboratory experiments.

So it’s back to the drawing board. They will do it differently next time, tweak a bit here, adjust a bit there. And they will get it right in the end.

Science is is the reason we live in the world we do, rather than the world of a thousand years ago which was a horrid place. Science succeeds because it sometimes fails. But sadly a great number of people are still too dim to realise that.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Anti-GM protesters don’t understand how science works

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