The protest group calling itself Take the Flour Back, which has threatened to destroy a field of genetically modified (GM) wheat plants on 27 May, has responded to an open letter from researchers asking them not to do it. In an open letter to Rothamsted Research posted on its Web site, the group says it welcomes the chance for an open debate and invites the researchers "to join us on neutral ground, with a neutral chairperson, for an open exchange of opinions and concerns." The letter suggests, however, that the activists are unlikely to call off their protest.
The group offers rebuttals to several of the researchers' arguments. They note that while the researchers' letter pledges that the work will not be patented or owned by any private company, "only a large agrochemical company would have the infrastructure to make the GM wheat commercially available." They also say they are concerned about the antibiotic resistance marker gene that the wheat contains, and assert that the researchers "are openly releasing a synthetic version of a compound that … has had no long-term health safety tests whatsoever for human consumption, or for its impacts on non-target species."
"We do not believe that it should be lawful for you to spread contamination in this way," the letter continues. "If the government, through its close bio-tech industry ties, refuses to take responsibility for this problem, then we are left with no other choice."