A lobby group in support of the field trials of genetically modified crops have warned that if anti-GM activities continue to destroy crops, investors and scientists will be driven away from New Zealand.

Francis Wevers, executive director of the pro-GE group Lifesciences Network, explained that anti-GE activists were destroying science and knowledge: “The point is none of this work is being done without having been approved by the appropriate statutory authorities in the first place, who have assessed it as being safe to conduct.”

Just last week, GM protesters invaded a laboratory glasshouse near Christchurch that formed part of a government-funded research program. They destroyed hundreds of GE potato plants, causing damage worth many thousands of dollars damage and setting the programme back by a year.

Tremane Barr, a spokesman for anti-GE group Groundswell, revealed that due to a negative public reaction to last week’s destruction, it has abandoned plans to attack field trials: “We have decided to change Groundswell policy to one of not advocating the wilful destruction of GE field trials or the unlawful tampering of other property associated with GE experiments.”