Man fined for GM wheat attack

A man has been ordered to pay nearly £4,000 for destroying part of the GM wheat crop trial.

Hector Christie, 51, pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage at Rothamsted Research centre on 20 May this year.

Mr Christie, of Tapeley Park, Bideford, Devon, told magistrates sitting at Central Hertfordshire Magistrates’ Court in St Albans on Friday (24 August) that he had pulled up the wheat and scattered organic seeds to protest against GM farming.

Scientists at Rothamsted, based in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, are conducting a controlled experiment to see whether transgenic wheat can repel aphids in the field.

At the time of the incident, Rothamsted released a statement saying that the intruder (Mr Christie) had caused “significant” damage but had failed to disrupt the experiment.

Maurice Moloney, director and chief executive of Rothamsted Research, said: “This act of vandalism has attempted to deny us all the opportunity to gather knowledge and evidence, for current and future generations, on one possible technological alternative approach to get plants to defend themselves and therefore reduce pesticide use.”

Mr Christie, an old Etonian organic farmer, was ordered to pay £3,850 in compensation to Rothamsted, £85 court costs and a victim surcharge of £15.

Rothamsted said it did not want to comment on the outcome of the hearing.

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