Yesterday, members of the Take the Flour Back campaign and many anti-GM protesters descended upon Rothamsted Park, with the intent of “decontaminating” the GM wheat trial that was going on. Thankfully, a large police presence, along with #geeksinthepark (pro-science people), prevented this decontamination from happening. The end result? A day in the glorious sunshine with music, picnics, talking, and no destruction or violence towards people or science. Collected below are many snippets of information relating to the event on Sunday 27th May (as a refresher of what the scientists at Rothamsted do, here’s an interview with Dr. Gia Aradottir, by Biofortified).
The Guardian (and The Observer) had several articles published, including: This experiment in food technology has to continue (talks about the difference between multinational agrochemical companies and Rothamsted, and the wheat trial itself); We have a duty to put our faith in science, not trample on it (talks about the media’s role, and how progress is dependent upon scientific research); Anti-GM protesters kept from tearing up wheat crop by police (image above credited to here; Police use trespass order and mounted officers to halt hundreds of activists at entrance to land owned by Rothamsted Research); and The GM scientists’ risky strategy that won public support (research group pleaded with protesters to call off their threat to destroy trials – and even offered to fund public debate).
Nick Cohen of the Spectator (Take the mickey back) talks about belief, the Green Party, and rejecting science.
The Independent goes with “Heavy police presence thwarts anti-GM protest“, focusing on how the police handled the day.
Michael Brooks writes in the New Statesman about “Lessons from Rothamsted“, and what lessons GM scientists and their supporters can take away from the whole ordeal.
The blog by the artist formerly known as Geek in The Gambia details their day out at Rothamsted, providing a viewpoint from someone who actually attended the event, complete with pictures and mix-ups.
Finally, Nature News Blog has a detailed write up of the event, including interviews from members of both parties.
It’s been an interesting ride for everyone involved in this GM wheat trial, both anti-GM and pro-science people. As a final note, the Rothamsted Research website was taken down by a DDoS attack on Sunday night, perhaps by the group Anonymous, although it is unclear at this time who is responsible. Quite why this was required, and the resulting impact it had, I really don’t know.
I hope that both parties have learnt from this event, and that the Rothamsted researchers can now carry on with their research in peace, without the threat of it being “decontaminated”. Only by completing their experiment can we find out whether their GM wheat crop is truly better and more effective than the non-GM variety.
Here’s to science surviving. Onwards!