The planting of a new experimental crop of genetically modified (GM) wheat will take place this spring after the UK government gave the final go ahead. The GM wheat has been engineered to use sunlight more efficiently and has boosted greenhouse yields by up to 40%. Researchers in Hertfordshire now want to see if they can replicate these gains in the field.
Critics say that boosting wheat yields is not an answer to global food shortages. Several GM trials of crops have taken place in the UK over the past 20 years, often attracting protesters who have attempted to destroy the plants. Even when trials managed to avoid disruption, they have not always been scientifically successful.
This latest effort aims to see if the spectacular gains in productivity of 20-40% in GM wheat grown in the greenhouse can be reproduced in the open air.