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for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

Action: Oppose the release of experimental GM wheat

GM developers at the John Innes Centre have applied for permission to plant experimental GM wheat in an open field near Norwich. If you don’t want that to happen, please email by Sunday 30 January to let the Government know that you oppose application reference 21/R52/01.

ripe wheat field

GM Freeze will submit a detailed and fully referenced response but it is important that Defra also hears from concerned individuals and groups on or before Sunday 30 January.

You can email including the application reference number 21/R52/01 in the subject line, or write to: GM Team, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Second Floor, Seacole Building, Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF, stating the application reference number 21/R52/01.

Full details of the application and the public consultation are published on the Defra website.

Our tips

  • Make it clear you are responding to the consultation on application number 21/R52/01 and that you want the trial to be stopped.
  • Use your own words as this will get more attention.
  • Be polite but express how your feel.
  • If you have expertise in a relevant area (eg genetics, farming, healthy eating, baking) say so.
  • Send a copy of your objection to your MP.
  • Please send us a copy of your submission and any replies you receive.

 What’s wrong with this trial?

GM wheat has a history of escaping from field trials around the world. If allowed, this will be the fifth kind of experimental GM wheat to be grown in open fields in the South and/or East of England in recent years. We should not be running this kind of risk, especially with a crop that is a staple of the UK diet.

The GM developers have not included key technical information in their application. They have not explained why GM wheat plants grown in a previous, linked, trial had smaller than expected grains, or why an Australian trial of GM wheat with some of the same added genes resulted in smaller plants. As they have also not sequenced the DNA in the experimental plants (to show exactly what changes have been made) we can’t know whether these unexpected outcomes are caused by genetic errors or something else.

The plants include genes that make them resistant to two different antibiotics. If these genes spread to other organisms, they could contribute to the growing worldwide problem of antibiotic resistant infections.

This experiment aims to increase levels of iron and zinc in white flour. Adding two nutrients to foods like white sliced bread and doughnuts will work against efforts to improve health by encouraging people to eat a balanced diet rich in whole grains and vegetables.

Nutrient levels in most farmed wheat are low because modern varieties have been developed for high yields and other features rather than optimum nutrition. Traditional wheat varieties are more nutritious.

The genetic modifications could lead to increased levels of harmful heavy metals in the GM wheat, or in other plants that the modified genes spread to through contamination.

Too much iron or zinc is dangerous, especially to vulnerable groups. If you have haemochromatosis or need to be careful about your iron or zinc intake for any reason, you might want to mention this in your submission

Other ways to take action

  • Share your concerns on social media. It helps if you tag @gmfreeze on twitter and follow our Facebook page (/GMFreezeUK).
  • If you represent a company, voluntary group or other organisation that shares your concern about this trial, contact vicky[at] to discuss signing on to our detailed, multi-agency response.

Help us keep saying no

Work opposing this trial is funded by donations from people like you.

If you can afford to contribute financially, please give what you can to allow us to make more noise about risky GM field trials.