SECRET trials of genetically modified crops have begun in secret in parts of England, a story in the Daily Telegraph claims today, and it suggest that one of the tests involves pest-resistant potatoes being grown near Tadcaster in North Yorkshire.
Large scale trial of GM crops – called “Frankenstein foods” by critics because of possible future defects – were largely abandoned after protesters invaded some 50 test areas and destroyed the trial plants.
One of those was an area of potatoes growing near Tadcaster as scientists from Leeds University tried to develop a strain resistant to the nematode worm, a parasite which bores into the tubers – and is all too well known to vegetable gardeners.
That trial was attacked in May last year – but the Telegraph suggests today that this is one of the experiments which have resumed at a secret location.
The GM battle is one of the most passionate conflicts between scientists and the politicians and “green protesters” that have erupted in recent years.
The antis fear that such crops might mutate in unknown ways and inter-breed with traditional food products so as to make them inedible to humans or even produce physical or mental deformity, particular if fed to livestock in large amounts.
The scientists, backed by the government, insist that such research is essential if we are to combat the growing world food shortage. The environment department Defra has refused to comment on the secret tests report but points out that such experiments were given three-year-licences which are still in force.