A Phytophthora-resistant potato was developed some time ago by BASF. It is being released in Germany once again in 2012 on just two of the four release areas listed in the German location register for this year, all of which were applied for before 2012. Numbers of release experiments are falling in Germany just as they are at European level. In 2007 there were around 80 experiments. By 2011 this figure had already fallen to 15.

Scientists and commercial firms in Europe that use genetic engineering methods in plant research and plant breeding have for years had to witness the destruction of crop trials. In other quarters too they face fierce public opposition, which is why the political situation surrounding the authorization of GM plants is so fraught with difficulty. BASF responded to this situation in 2012 by relocating its research division to the USA. The Üplingen display garden in Saxony-Anhalt in Germany, which until 2011 cultivated various GM plants and provided comprehensive information on agriculture and genetic engineering, will remain closed in 2012.

Scientists at the Rothamsted Research Institute to the south of London are trying a different approach. When radical GM opponents announced recently that they planned to destroy crops on the institute’s land at the end of May, they received a video appeal from the researchers. The trial field contains a variety of GM wheat that produces a scent from mint that keeps aphids away. In their appeal, the scientists explain why they see their research as a contribution to a more sustainable form of agriculture and call on the activists to refrain from destroying the crop and to enter into the spirit of dialogue.