View from the fence

Social, environmental and economic issues surrounding GM foods, and the latest news

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The importance of failure

The results are in: the aphid-repelling wheat which caused the Rothamsted protests of 2012 doesn’t actually repel aphids in the field. Despite success in the lab, the field trial showed no reduction in aphid numbers.

An interesting analysis in Nature points out that history is written by the winner. In science, however, there are many fails behind every success. Continue reading


‘Rewilding’ – new GM potential for organic agriculture?

Many wild relatives of crops have genes which protect them from drought, disease and other stresses. These are exactly the characteristics we want in our crops, so these genes have great potential for agriculture.

Organic agriculture is in particular need of new genetic resources because modern crop varieties are normally bred with conventional agriculture in mind. Without inputs which are banned in organic agriculture, these varieties often don’t thrive. Currently average yields are lower on organic farms, and new genetic resources could help reduce this difference. Continue reading