The Earth Liberation Front claims it torched Agriculture Hall on New Year's Eve because a professor who works for Michigan State University's Institute of International Agriculture was working with plant genetics.
The ELF eco-terrorist group claimed credit for property damage estimated at $400,000 that centered in Room 324, the offices of Catherine Ives.
Monsanto and USAID were conducting projects in the office with Ives. It was designed to not only pursue research concerning genetically engineered sweet potatoes, corn and other vegetables but to lobby developing countries to abandon their current agricultural practices and to rely on genetically engineered plants, and thus corporations like Monsanto, according to the ELF claims.
Michigan State University has since increased security. The FBI, MSU police and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are now investigating.
Agriculture Hall, built in 1909, is one of the oldest buildings on campus. The hall, considered a university landmark, had just under gone an $8 million renovation last year.
Cleanup is under way in the building's northeast corner, where several floors sustained charred walls and water damage. Faculty members have been moved to other offices.
ELF was founded in Brighton, England, in 1992. It has claimed responsibility for numerous criminal acts since then. It ignited buildings at the Vail Ski Resort in Colorado causing $12 million in damage.
The Michigan State University event occurred just a few days after the same group claimed credit for burning down the Northwest headquarters of Boise Cascade in Monmouth, OR, on Christmas day.