BBC’s Countryfile show investigates GM crops trial in Harpenden

Filming at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden

Filming at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden - Credit: Photo supplied

Researchers in Harpenden have featured on the BBC’s Countryfile programme, studying controversial genetically modified plants.

Presenter Tom Heap visited Rothamsted Research to learn more about the UK’s first field trial of a nutritionally beneficial crop.

Scientists at Rothamsted are trying out a variety of Camelina that has been modified to contain beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids.

Plants have been engineered to produce oils which contribute to protection against coronary heart disease. In April this year the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) gave the go-ahead to carry out trials at the centre’s farm until 2017.

Tom was interested in finding out whether there has been a change in attitude towards genetically modified crops as, unlike previous trials, this year there have been no protests at the site.

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The Countryfile crew have been filming at Rothamsted, including in the laboratories, at different stages of the trial since May.

They interviewed Prof Johnathan Napier, lead scientist of this project, and Stephen Goward, the farm manager. Describing the research as “exciting”, Johnathan talked about how Rothamsted was trying to create a sustainable source of Omega-3 fish oils in GM Camelina plants.

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He added: “We very much enjoyed working with the BBC’s Countryfile to document the science that went into our project and the hard work that went into our field trial.

“As a publicly-funded institute, Rothamsted is committed to communicating its research as widely as possible and this programme was a great opportunity for people to find out more about some of the projects we have here.”

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