‘Super yield’ GMO wheat gets green light for field trials in UK over critics’ objections

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The GM wheat has been engineered to use sunlight more efficiently and has boosted greenhouse yields by up to 40%. Researchers in Hertfordshire now want to see if they can replicate these gains in the field.

Several GM trials of crops have taken place in the UK over the past 20 years, often attracting protesters who have attempted to destroy the plants.

Even when trials managed to avoid disruption, they have not always been scientifically successful.

Last Autumn, the scientists at Rothamsted Research submitted an application to the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) seeking permission to carry out small field trials at a secure site near Harpenden between 2017 and 2019.

After an independent risk assessment and a public consultation, that permission has now been granted. The researchers say they want to test newly developed wheat plants that have been modified to carry a gene from a wild relative called stiff brome.

But the planned planting is not without its critics.

Around 30 green organisations lodged objections to the plan, pointing to concerns about the potential for the GM wheat to escape into the wild, as has repeatedly happened in the US. Campaigners say they are “disappointed” that the trial is now going ahead.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: New ‘super yield’ GM wheat trial gets go-ahead

  • Stuart M.

    One just has to shake one’s head… Heaven forbid! A high yielding wheat plant might escape into the wild! We might have too much food! It’s time for the anti-GMO crowd to be rounded up and put in the loony bin. Fortunately, there is already a $2.5 million fence around the facility because the loonies once before threatened to destroy a crop being field tested there.

  • Mark Glenn Keen

    You have a lone sentence stating something with no context- “Even when trials managed to avoid disruption, they have not always been scientifically successful.” So, what does this sentence mean? The damage to the trial sites by activists confounded analysis of the trial results or altered the results of the trial? What does this sentence relate to?

    • Stuart M.

      Actually, the same facility had the bright idea of making wheat “smell bad” to aphids by incorporating an “alarm pheromone gene” into the wheat. This would have made it possible to use less insecticide. Laboratory tests were quite promising as aphids in the lab avoided the GM wheat and wasps which preyed on the aphids were attracted to it. Rothamstad Labs then applied to field-test the GM wheat. The anti-GMO Luddites immediately kicked into high gear and tried to get the field tests stopped. When permission was given anyway, the antis threatened to attack the GMO wheat and tear it out. Rothamstad had to build a $2.5 million fence around the test field to protect the wheat. The results of the field test were disappointing, however. For some reason, the “smell” was much too weak out in the open to dissuade aphids or attract beneficial wasps. I hope I have done the story justice. You can read for yourself at http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/biotech/sdut-gmo-aphid-pheromone-fails-2015jun25-story.html