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Euro Scientists Make a Biotech Plea

Activist group targets new-tech wheat test plots, scientists involved ask they back off to save years of work.

Published on: May 3, 2012

The rising focus by activist groups against tech development a group of scientists involved in an experimental wheat plant have tried to stem the threat of crop destruction before it happens. The plot includes a biotech-derived wheat variety that uses a pheromone to push away yield robbing aphids.

But an activist group called Take the Flour Back has publicly threatened to carry out what it calls a "decontamination" at a test site where the experimental wheat is being grown. In fact, the group is threatening to destroy the test plot, so the scientists involved sent an open letter to the group asking that they not wipe out what constitutes years of research. It's a proactive move that probably won't protect the plot, but has gotten attention back on biotech research in the region.

Euro Scientists Make a GMO Plea
Euro Scientists Make a GMO Plea

According to press reports, the group claims the scientists have used a "cow gene" as part of the transformation, the scientists say that shows the lack of understanding the activists have for the science.

Pheromones are powerful chemicals that act on insects' scent glands to direct them or provide cues. In this case, the product would create a kind of "fright" mechanism, according to reports, keeping aphids away.

The scientists claim the technology would protect the wheat crop without the need for pesticides. And in their open letter to the group, inviting the activists to visit the farm later this month, the researchers offered to have a dialogue about the technology and its potential for agriculture.

The group told a British newspaper it will proceed with plans to destroy the crop.