Genetically-modified barley, which was being grown for experimental purposes in Gunnarsholt, south Iceland, by start-up company ORF Liftaekni, was damaged by a group of activists in the early hours of Wednesday. There will be no harvest this fall. [image: CEO of ORF Liftaekni, Bjorn Larus Orvar. Photo by Geir Olafsson.]
"We are naturally shocked about this," CEO of ORF Liftaekni, Bjorn Larus Orvar told visir.is, adding that the activists have caused ISK millions of damage to his company. "For a small company like ours, which is struggling in the difficult innovation environment, this is a serious matter."
By cultivating genetically-modified barley ORF Liftaekni's had wanted to create valuable products for medical research, the cosmetics market and the development of pharmaceuticals.
The group of activists, which calls itself Illgresi (Weed), sent an anonymous email to the media, claiming responsibility for the sabotage.
The group argues that ORF Liftaekni's experiments will lead to the cultivation of other genetically-modified organisms in Iceland, which it considers dangerous to the environment and local animal life.
The group states that democratic discussions on the matter are lacking, accusing the institutions that granted ORF Líftaekni a permit to grow genetically-modified barley of corruption.
Orvar dismisses the group's accusations. "I don't know what they are referring to. [Our operations] were given a very good and professional evaluation at the Environment Agency of Iceland and the Nature Institute. If we cannot trust our foremost scientists I don’t know who we should go to."
"From now on genetic modification will not take place in Iceland without us interfering," Illgresi threatened. The sabotage has been reported to the police.