Toby Bradshaw, an associate professor at the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture in Seattle, had been studying traditionally bred and genetically engineered Poplar trees as part of a developmental biology program of interest to companies involved in paper and wood manufacturing. In the same lab facility, assistant professor Sarah Reichard had been growing 100 showy stickseed plants from tissue cultures. With only 300 of the endangered plants (hackelia venusta) remaining in the world, her efforts would be vital to the survival of this perennial herb.

These and dozens of other botanical projects came to a fiery end in May when arsonists, claiming to be members of the self-styled "ecoterrorist" group Earth Liberation Front (ELF), torched the Center for Urban Horticulture, causing about $2 million in damage and destroying years of research. On the same day, ELF also burned an office and destroyed a fleet of...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?