A 50-year-old man has been charged with criminal damage following a break-in at Rothamsted Research that caused "significant and random property damage" to the genetically modified wheat trial.

The man has been charged in connection with a break in at the research facility in Harpenden on Sunday morning.

The trial, which has been approved by the independent government advisory group, ACRE (the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment), will test wheat that has been genetically modified to repel harmful insects in order to protect itself from disease.

A spokesman from Rothamsted Research said crops had been vandalised, causing "significant and random property damage".

Maurice Moloney, director of the research centre, said "This act of vandalism has attempted to deny us all the opportunity to gather knowledge and evidence, for current and future generations."

Professor Douglas Kell, chief executive at BBSRC which is funding the trial, said: "We were disappointed to hear that an individual has caused damage to the BBSRC-funded GM field trial at Rothamsted Research and condemn this act of vandalism.

"We strongly support the right of our funded scientists to carry out approved and regulated trials and we fully support the action of the police which prevented further science losses.

"We will now work closely with Rothamsted as they examine the extent of the damage caused and will provide all necessary funding and advice they need to complete the project.

"We understand that some people do not agree with this research and we encourage our funded scientists to engage with a range of views around their work.

"People have the right to make their views known but we deplore those that turn to criminal damage. We will support the police and Rothamsted in ensuring all appropriate action is now taken.

"The UK has a world-leading bioscience community that can help us to overcome many of the serious issues we face now and in the coming years. They cannot do this without conducting experiments and trials. This trial aims to generate the evidence and knowledge that all proponents in the GM debate would like to see.

"Damaging this trial is an attempt to remove one option for addressing significant challenges in global food security. It will not be the only option by we believe that will should explore every potential approach and not to deprive society of tools for the future."

An organised protest organised by the campaign group Take the Flour Back is due to be held at the site on Sunday.

However the group has said it had nothing to do with this weekend’s break-in.

Eleanor Baylis, a representative from Take the Flour Back, said: "We have no information about this incident but we are relieved if the quantity of GM pollen released from the trial has been reduced.

"The British people are clear that they're not swallowing this technology, yet the coalition government has allowed a release of genetically modified materials which threaten the livelihoods of Britain's flourishing wheat farmers.

"The only certainty about this trial is that there's an absolute market rejection of the product it's testing. It's urgent that we act before contamination occurs."

Hector Christie, of Tapeley Park Lodge in Instow, Devon,is due to appear at St Albans magistrates’ court on July 13 in connection with the break-in.