Scientists have tried to make a genetically-modified wheat that would repel insects without the need for insecticides. The scientists spent millions of pounds of public money and failed.
They wanted to create genetically modified wheat that would repel insects with a scent so the crop can continue to grow.
The idea was successful in the laboratory conditions, but proved to be unsuccessful in the field conditions at Rothamsted Research Institute in Harpenden, Hertfordshire.
The former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson praised this research as the type of pioneering science.
However, published results reveal that the wheat was unsuccessful to fend off the insects.
The project cost almost £3million, £732,000 went to the development of the wheat and £2.23m was spent on other security measures.
The scientists used gene from a peppermint plant that facilitates a release of a pheromone named (E)-beta-farnesene (EbetaF). During laboratory tests, the pheromone was produced in significant quantities without affecting appearance or wheat growth and aphids were successfully repelled.
However, results of field trials show no difference in the number of aphids infesting GM and conventional wheat.
Rothamsted Research Institute stated that there is a difference between a failed experiment and failed science and this experiment was actually successful because it allowed them to test the hypothesis of whether the GM wheat could repel aphids in the field.
GM Freeze stated that this trial only served to use public resources for the development and promotion of GM crops. Director of this group, Liz O’Neill commented that GM only offers a temporary solution to complex and expanding problems.
Another negative comment on this trial was given by policy director of the Soil Association Peter Melchett, who said that this research was a waste of time and money. He added that aphids are not a danger to crops as organic farmers have no problems with aphids and they do not use pesticides.
Based on the statement of Dr Helen Wallace, the director of GeneWatch, further research has to be moved away from GM and directed to the production of safe food which does not damage the environment.