Man Charged Over GM Crop Trial Lab Vandalism

A man has been charged with criminal damage after a break-in at a research centre where a trial of GM wheat crops is taking place.

Bosses at Rothamsted Research said the attack on Sunday caused "significant, random property damage", but no disruption to the trial.

Hector Christie, 50, from Instow, Devon, has been bailed to reappear before St Albans Magistrates Court on July 13.

Experiments being carried out at the centre in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, aim to establish whether genetically modified crops can resist aphids - among the most destructive pests for farmers.

A statement issued by Rothamsted said the centre was "disappointed" by the attempt to "destroy our scientific experiment".

It added that the trial had been approved by the independent government advisory group, the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (Acre) .

It quoted Acre as saying it was "satisfied that all appropriate measures have been taken to avoid adverse effects to human health and the environment from the proposed release".

Rothamsted director Prof Maurice Moloney said the attack was an "attempt to deny us all the opportunity to gather knowledge and evidence" in the pursuit of an alternative to pesticides.

Professor Douglas Kell, chief executive at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council , which funded the trial, said: "We strongly support the right of our funded scientists to carry out approved and regulated trials.

"We will now work closely with Rothamsted as they examine the extent of the damage cause and will provide all necessary funding and advice they need to complete the project."