The Huffington Post UK | By Dina Rickman
A man has been charged with criminal damage after allegedly attempting to vandalise a trial on genetically modified food in Hertfordshire, which activists are threatening to destroy this week.
Hertfordshire police said in a statement that a 50-year-old man from Devon was charged with criminal damage following an alleged incident at the research site in Harpenden on Sunday.
“Hector Christie, of Tapeley Park Lodge, Instow has been bailed to re-appear before Central Magistrates Court [St Albans] on July 13,” police said.
The scientific experiment has sparked controversy among anti-GM campaigners, with one group called ‘Take The Flour Back’, previously saying they had “no choice” but to destroy the experiments on genetically modified wheat.
The scientists at Rothamsted Research are conducting an experiment to create wheat that can more easily repel aphid attacks. But protesters, who are worried GM crops could carry viruses and be antibiotic resistant, say they are risking contaminating wheat and “robbing UK farmers of their livelihoods.”
Take the Flour Back denied the arrested man had anything to do with the group.
“We’re still planning the action on Sunday [27 May],” a spokeswoman told The Huffington Post UK on Monday.
However, Rothamsted Research said in a statement the vandalism was “consistent with the threats” made by the group.
“We are disappointed by this course of action, attempting to destroy our scientific experiment through illegal activity,” they said.
Earlier in May, Professor John Pickett, a chemical ecologist leading the research at Rothamsted in Hertfordshire, pleaded with ad-hoc activist group ‘Take the Flour Back’ not to destroy the crop in an action planned for next week.
In an open letter to the group, he wrote: “We can only appeal to your consciences, and ask you to reconsider before it is too late, and before years of work to which we have devoted our lives are destroyed forever,” he said.
But they countered his claims, with a spokesperson telling The Huffington Post UK: “If we were to allow it [the crop] to flower we would be risking much more than any of the work that’s been done on GM we would be risking generations of research.