Rothamsted Research granted approval to undertake scientific research of GM wheat

27th Sep 2011

Rothamsted Research has been granted approval from ACRE (the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment) to undertake scientific research of GM wheat, modified to produce a pheromone to repel aphids, at the Rothamsted site. ACRE is satisfied that all appropriate measures have been taken to avoid adverse effects to human health and the environment from the proposed release.

Rothamsted Research welcomes the decision of ACRE to undertake scientific research of GM wheat at the Rothamsted site and thank them for their objective, scientific evidence-based process.

The recent announcement of Agriculture Ministers from the G20 group of nations endorsing international wheat improvement to improve food security underlines the importance of increasing world agricultural production, in particular that of wheat, to resolve the urgent challenge of sustainably providing enough safe, nutritious and affordable food for a growing global population.”

We understand some people may have questions in relation to this trial and our scientists welcome the opportunity to meet with, hear the views of, and discuss issues with any groups or members of the public before the trial begins in Spring 2012.

Maurice Moloney the Director of Rothamsted Research said “Anyone tending to their gardens this summer will be aware of the damage aphids can cause to plants. For the UK wheat farming community the damage Aphids cause to crops can devastate their livelihoods. Aphids damage crops directly by sucking nutrients from plants and indirectly by spreading harmful plant viruses. With wheat being the most important UK crop with an annual value of about £1.2 billion no one should underestimate the economic losses due to Aphids.

He added

“Aphids are usually controlled by insecticides, but our scientists are seeking natural solutions to this problem. One approach has been to copy plants like mint and hops, which protect themselves with a natural molecule that repels, but does not kill, aphids. This involves producing a pheromone (a volatile signal) that is used by aphids to tell one another about danger. Rothamsted scientists have produced wheat plants, which deploy this natural mode of defence and we are testing whether it will work under field conditions. This method not only helps to control aphids, but does so in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way without having to use pesticides.”


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