There was alarm at the John Innes Centre in Norwich yesterday when it was announced that biosecurity had been breached and some genetically modified vegetables had managed to escape into the wider countryside. Chief scientist, Frank Farrington, said there was no real cause for concern as long as the general public did not approach the vegetables. He admitted that the potatoes which had been combined with weasel genes could give a nasty bite if roughly handled but defended this potential hazard as one of the costs and benefits associated with any new technology.
Friends of the Earth spokesperson, Jennifer Juniper, said that secret filming had already revealed tomato-chimpanzee hybrids and sprouts crossed with the genes of estate agents. ‘We warned that this would happen. Run for your lives!’ she added.
It is not clear how the breakout occurred but it seems certain that the potatoes tunnelled under the perimeter fence whilst the French beans simply climbed it. Other beans did a runner.