Iranian protesters storm British embassy: in pictures

Students in Tehran have broken into the UK embassy after clashing with riot police during an anti-Br

Dozens of students have forcibly entered the British Embassy in the Iranian capital Tehran, forcing staff to flee the building. State TV shows the young Iranian men throwing rocks, whilst other reports say petrol bombs and burning documents have been thrown within the building and out of windows.

Protesters in the city had clashed earlier with anti-riot police, chanting "Death to England", "Death to America" and "Death to Israel", according to the semi-official news agency, Fars.

Smoke has been seen emerging from parts of the embassy grounds, and the British flag has been ripped down and replaced by a banner with the name a Shiite saint of the seventh century, Imam Hussein.

Police tried to clear the site as protesters burnt the Union Jack -- as well as the US and Israeli flags -- and scaled the gates, entering the compound. There has been no word of casualties, though Sky News journalist Neal Mann -- @FieldProducer -- has Tweeted:

"Reuters: six UK embassy staff taken hostage by protesters in northern compound of Tehran embassy - Mehr news agency"

Followed by:

"Worth noting that currently only source for UK embassy hostages line appears to be Mehr which has since taken down its story..."

The latest report from Reuters reads:

Iranian police on Tuesday secured the release of six employees of the British embassy compound in northern Tehran who had been taken hostage by hardline students earlier in the day, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. "Police freed the six people working for the British embassy in Gholhak garden [the British diplomatic compound]," Fars said.

Alice Gribbin is a Teaching-Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She was formerly the editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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Why Prince Charles and Princess Anne are both wrong on GM foods

The latest tiff between toffs gives plenty of food for thought.

I don’t have siblings, so I was weirdly curious as a kid about friends who did, especially when they argued (which was often). One thing I noticed was the importance of superlatives: of being the best child, the most right, and the first to have been wronged. And it turns out things are no different for the Royals.

You might think selective breeding would be a subject on which Prince Charles and Princess Anne would share common ground, but when it comes to genetically modified crops they have very different opinions.

According to Princess Anne, the UK should ditch its concerns about GM and give the technology the green light. In an interview to be broadcast on Radio 4’s Farming Today, she said would be keen to raise both modified crops and livestock on her own land.

“Most of us would argue we have been genetically modifying food since man started to be agrarian,” she said (rallying the old first-is-best argument to her cause). She also argued that the practice can help reduce the price of our food and improve the lives of animals - and “suspects” that there are not many downsides.

Unfortunately for Princess Anne, her Royal “us” does not include her brother Charles, who thinks that GM is The Worst.

In 2008, he warned that genetically engineered food “will be guaranteed to cause the biggest disaster environmentally of all time.”  Supporting such a path would risk handing control of our food-chain to giant corporations, he warned -  leading to “absolute disaster” and “unmentionable awfulness” and “the absolute destruction of everything”.

Normally such a spat could be written off as a toff-tiff. But with Brexit looming, a change to our present ban on growing GM crops commercially looks ever more likely.

In this light, the need to swap rhetoric for reason is urgent. And the most useful anti-GM argument might instead be that offered by the United Nations’ cold, hard data on crop yields.

Analysis by the New York Times shows that, in comparison to Europe, the United States and Canada have “gained no discernible advantages” from their use of GM (in terms of food per acre). Not only this, but herbicide use in the US has increased rather than fallen.

In sum: let's swap superlatives and speculation for sense.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.