Planned protests on the Rothamsted Research site
We are pleased that the protest in Rothamsted Park on the afternoon of 27th May 2012 passed peacefully and that both supporters and opponents had the chance to make their voices heard. We worked closely with the Hertfordshire Constabulary and are very grateful for their support to protect any illegal damage to our experiments and facilitating this peaceful protest. The police and security response was necessary to prevent the destruction of our work and, with the constant threats to "decontaminate" our experiment as well as the vandalism last weekend, it was important to ensure a safe afternoon for our staff, visitors and protestors alike.
We hope we can now proceed with this BBSRC-funded project without any further threats to find some answers to the question of reducing the use of harmful insecticides in wheat crops, benefitting future generations and the environment.
Since writing to the protest group at the beginning of April 2012 to see if Rothamsted Research can be of assistance on, or leading up to, the planned day of action, Rothamsted Research has remained committed to engaging people with a diversity of views around our work and is still willing to engage in a discussion with people about any issues around our work. But with protestors still planning to "decontaminate" our scientific trial, we still ask for them to enter into the spirit of discussion and not a spirit of destruction.
The details and chronology of this correspondence is shown below.
3rd April 2012: The Director of Rothamsted Research wrote an open letter to Take the Flour Back. This was sent via email and again on 5th May via Twitter. It was also communicated to them via an exchange of the www.harpendenpeople.co.uk website.
27 April: An open letter is sent from the scientists to the protestors.
1 May: The GM Appeal video is uploaded to YouTube.
2nd May: The protest group wrote a letter to us.
3rd May: Prof. John Pickett contacted the protest group and thanked them for their response of 2nd May. He also said he was pleased that the protest group agreed with the need for public dialogue and said he was happy to take their suggestions on a neutral chair and venue for a meeting. He noted that the points made by the protest group give a good structure to frame the dialogue and he added that he looked forward to meeting them in coming weeks.
9th May: Rothamsted Research contacted the protest group again to check if the email from the 3rd May had been received, as Rothamsted continued to await a response. Rothamsted therefore offered another point of contact to help arrange the logistics of this neutral meeting.
15th May: Prof. John Pickett contacted the protest group in response to their email on the same day saying that he was looking forward to meeting them on the Newsnight programme, but thought it important to allow sufficient time for us all to have a thorough and considered discussion and to go through the points highlighted in their letter. Whilst short debates on the radio and television can be insightful, he felt it did not allow sufficient time for us all to have the detailed discussion required. As the protest group had not put forward suggestions for a nuetral chair and venue, he therefore suggest a neutral venue (Friends Meeting House) and neutral chair (George Monbiot) on the 22nd May that he believed they would find acceptable. He also agreed to book and pay for the venue. He asked if they could get back to him by 13:00 the following day with a view to announcing this in order to give people a chance to attend in the few days left. He suggested a joint notification through our respective websites and social media. He said, this way we would have two hours for a much more detailed discussion and the chance to take questions and contributions from an audience which can include environmentalists, scientists and anyone else who would like to attend.
16th May: Prof. John Pickett contacted the protest group following a further email from them saying that they would have to decline attending the event on the 22nd May due to a lack of capacity as they woud not be able to find two to three speakers within the 7 days between our invitation on the 15th May an the proposed debate on the 22nd May. Prof. Pickett wrote back to them that day, asking them to reconsider. He reiterated his concerns that the information they had put out in the public domain contains inaccuracies and they were therefore encouraging people to destroy our experiment without giving us a chance properly to address these issues in a neutral venue. He urged them not to deny us both and the public a chance to put forward our cases openly, in advance of their planned direct action to "decontaminate" (which we understand would mean destroy) our legally approved experiment.
More recently, we exchanged emails regarding a debate via correspondence in a newspaper. In our most recent email, we have reiterated our concerns that an effective debate is difficult to have through an exchange of letters with word limits. We added that the views being expressed by them included those of large corporate ownership, faming systems, other socio-political dimensions, concerns over GM potatoes and GM rice, so focussing on scientists conducting a small scale field trial of wheat was unlikely to cover all their issues. We therefore re-emphasised our point from an earlier email on the importance of a bigger and more wide ranging debate to include people of many backgrounds, with multiple ways to input e.g. voice, written, video etc. (not just via a comments page which could exclude some individuals).
Operates two national networks for monitoring insect populations in the UK. More...
Provides the research community access to a range of in situ state-of-the-art instrumentation in hydrologically isolated fields and farms to better address key issues in sustainable agriculture. More...
A database of interactions between pathogens and their hosts maintained at Rothamsted Research with international input. More...
These have been running since the mid 19th Century, provide a unique experimental system and archive of soil and plant samples. More...
Rothamsted Research receives
strategic funding from the BBSRC
|Contact UsDisclaimerFeedbackCareersCorporate InformationPress OfficeHow to find us||© Rothamsted Research 2013|