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Rothamsted dialogue informs new approach to GM trials

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A recent Sciencewise-supported dialogue for Rothamsted Research is cited in a new blog by Jack Stilgoe as "giving the institution and its researchers new confidence in public discussions about contentious agricultural research".  The dialogue focused on building a set of principles for the institute's engagement with industry.

The story, originally published on Jack Stilgoe's Responsible Innovation blog on 4 September 2015 and then picked up by the Before Its News site, tells the "story of an institute and its researchers learning from controversy and from their own experiments in public dialogue".

The story covers Rothamsted's very different approaches to two GM wheat trials - one in 2012 which generated protest and one in 2014 (following the dialogue); both were approved by Defra. The 2014 trial took a much more open approach with a public consultation and invitations to various stakeholders, including local organic farmers and beekeepers. A concern from the beekeepers about the possible spread of pollen meant that Rothamsted went beyond the demands of regulators to put a net over the crop during its pollination. This second trial received significant publicity but relatively little antagonism.

The article concludes that this new approach "allowed Rothamsted to communicate the message that not only were they doing genuine frontier research, but also that they were doing so in public, in the open."

See related project page: Rothamsted Research