The Millennium ExperienceChronicle of the Future

Farmers veto 'Frankencrops'

15.04.12: ANGRY ORGANIC farmers have blockaded East Anglia's biggest genetically engineered plantation to protest at a new 'superpest' outbreak. This is the latest episode in the 'weed wars' that have divided rural Britain.

'Places like Fairweather Hall are just breeding grounds for new generations of pests,' says Arthur Bradley, who owns a 1,000-acre organic farm in Suffolk.

The dispute dates back 10 years, to when farmers began growing apples that had been genetically engineered to include a gene taken from Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterium naturally occurring in the soil. B thuringiensis produces a pesticide, one of the few that are used by organic farmers to deal with serious infestations. However, once thousands of acres had been given over to B thuringiensis apples, resistance to the pesticide emerged in the wild, threatening dozens of organic orchards. Organic crops are under attack again and farmers are blaming 'Frankencrops'.

Organic produce now accounts for 20% of food sales ­ a huge increase in the last decade, fuelled by a fear of the long-term effects of genetic crops. This is why the issue of labelling provokes almost as much passion as does genetic engineering.

'According to the food regulations, anything with an additive in, has to be clearly labelled,' says Bradley. 'But if you put a pesticide in an apple, that'