Authorities in England have gotten serious about protecting research on a genetically engineered wheat variety that is designed to repel aphids. Anti-GMO group Take the Flour Back threatened to destroy the field trial of the GM wheat at Rothamsted Research on May 27. Security was enhanced and the group was unable to “decontaminate” the field.

However, the High Court has now issued a civil injunction to protect the open field trial. Rothamsted Research sought the order after the group threatened to destroy the field. The injunction forbids unauthorized access to the field trial site and area around it. Anyone who breaches the injunction will face prosecution under the Contempt of Court Act, which could result in a large fine or even imprisonment.

Rothamsted Research sought the injunction also because other field trials around the GM wheat trial are being conducted. The research area has trials that have been observed since the 1800s, representing years of valuable data. Scientists fear activists will destroy these other research projects either intentionally or unintentionally in their quest to make a point about the GM wheat trial.

The injunction does not prevent protestors from protesting the site.

“The respondents can still protest, just not on land over which they have no right of entry,” said Philip Brook Smith QC, it was reported.

Stephen James, secretary of Lawes Agricultural Trust, the landowner of the site, said, “The use of nearby footpaths and access to nearby beauty spots is in no way harmed. But the wheat crop, and the barrier of barley that surrounds it is very fragile and as even a very limited intervention could seriously undermine the scientific credibility of the site, it is imperative that the immediate area be protected to avoid destruction.”