UK GM field trials
In Spring 2012 a two-year trial of GM wheat began in Hertfordshire. See GM Wheat? No Thanks for information and action.
There have been two recent field trials of GM potatoes authorised in the UK.
Trials have a long and patchy history in the UK, including government authorisation after rejection of the trials by other countries (like the Netherlands and Ireland) on safety grounds and government collusion with industry.
Below is a summary of the current situation with regard to potatoes. We will bring you any developments. It is unclear if the Leeds trial was planted in 2010 as it was not publicly confirmed or reported in the press as is usual, but in a response to a Parliamentary question in July 2011 Farming Minister Jim Paice said, "The Sainsbury Laboratory planted potatoes under this consent in 2011 at the same site as the 2010 planting." The license for both trials are vaild.
1) GM potato trials in the UK - Leeds
In 2010 the Centre for Plant Sciences at the University of Leeds was granted authorisation by Defra to conduct field trials of a GM potato resistant to potato cyst eelworm or potato cyst nematode (PCN).
This is a different GM potato to the one previously trialled in 2008 (see also Objecting to an Application to Trial GM Potatoes in Yorkshire 2008 for more information about that trial), and different to the potatoes being trialled in Norfolk (see below), but many of the problems are the same.
The trials were due to run from 1 May to 3 November 2010 and continue for a further 3 years until 2012. They took place at the Leeds University Farm at Tadcaster, North Yorkshire covering not more than 1,000 square metres with up to 4,000 GM plants per year.
2) GM potato trials in the UK - Norfolk
In 2010 the Sainsbury Laboratory at the John Innes Centre, Norwich was granted authorisation by Defra to conduct field trials of GM potatoes engineered to resist late potato blight. These potatoes contain genes from a potato relative from South America. They are different from the genes in BASF's GM blight resist potatoes field tested near Cambridge in 2007 and 2008, and different to the GM potatoes trialled in Leeds (see above), but many of the problems are the same.
The trials were due to run from 1 May 2010 to 30 November 2010 and continue for a further 2 years until 2012. The release took place at the John Innes Centre, Norfolk, in an area of 1,000 square metres with 200 square metres used each year for GM potatoes with not more than 200 GM plants per year.