[Editor’s note: Rothamsted Research is the longest running agricultural research center in the world. It has three campuses in Britain. The research facility at Harpenden, which is the subject of this article, ran a field trial of pest-resistant GMO wheat in 2012-2013. Anti-GMO activists threatened to destroy the crop, necessitating the construction of costly security fences and other features to protect the experiment.]
Rothamsted Research has asked for permission to carry out field trials using GM wheat plants, with the application currently under public consultation.
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The centre wants to carry out field trials at its farm in the town next year and in 2018, to test whether modified wheat plants can carry out photosynthesis … more efficiently – and whether this trait could result in a higher yielding crop.
The trial site in Harpenden is already completely surrounded by a 2.4m high chain-link fence, with locked double gates, to prevent the entry of wildlife and unauthorised people.
Rothamsted said that as it would be a controlled trial, “we need to ensure that rabbits, large animals and people do not wander into the field and damage the experiment.
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The agricultural research station … ran a trial with wheat genetically modified to resist aphids from 2012-13.
Results later showed that the crop did not, despite expectations, repel the pest.
And the cost of security measures needed to protect the controversial trial climbed to over £2 million [about 2.5 million USD], including fencing, in response to threats of vandalism and attempted criminal damage by anti-GM activists.
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