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for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

Action: Say NO to fishy GM field trial

Rothamsted Research has applied for permission to plant highly experimental GM Camelina Sativa at their farms in Hertfordshire and Suffolk. Please let Defra know by 8 April 2018 that you do not want this trial to go ahead.

GM Freeze has submitted a detailed objection on behalf of ourselves and 25 other organisations. However, it is important that Defra also hears from concerned individuals and groups.

Only certain factors will be considered legitimate grounds on which to refuse the application but you should include other issues that concern you as these consultations are a rare chance to let Defra know that you object to GM in our food and on our farms.

Our tips

  • Make it clear you are responding to the consultation on application number 18/R8/01 and that you do not want the trial to go ahead.
  • Use your own words. The notes below will help you but please don’t copy and paste into your submission.
  • Be polite and avoid making any claims that you cannot back up. We can provide references for all of the points listed below.
  • Send a copy of your objection to your MP.  You can find their details through our friends at Write to Them.
  • Please let us know what you have sent and send us a copy of any reply you receive from your MP.

Doing more

  • Share your concerns on social media. If you tag @gmfreeze on twitter or post to our Facebook page (/GMFreezeUK) we will help spread the word.
  • If you represent a company, voluntary group or other organisation that shares your concern about this trial, contact liz[at] to discuss signing on to the multi-agency response. This will be submitted early so please get in touch before Wednesday 21 March.

The public consultation is open until Sunday 8 April 2018. You can send your response by:

  • Email to (including the application reference number: 18/R8/01 in the email title) or
  • Post to GMO Team, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF

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

 Field of Camelina Sativa

What’s actually wrong with this trial?

Rothamsted Research has been running field trials of GM camelina since 2014. They get more complicated each time and this one includes a large number of unrelated GM traits.

The key points we are concerned about are:


Some of the plants in this trial produce wax esters. When eaten by people, wax esters can cause digestive problems including diarrhoea and an involuntary discharge of oil from the anus. The plants in the trial are not supposed to be eaten by people but their pollen or seed could escape and grow outside the trial. Also, the genes for this trait could be transferred to other species.

Some of the plants in this trial have been changed in ways that could give them a competetive advantage over their natural relatives. This would make any escape of seed or pollen from the trial much more serious.

A study published in 2016 found that, when butterfly larvae ate the kind of omega 3 fatty acids that will be produced by the plants in this trial, the adult butterflies were heavier and more likely to have deformed wings. The application does not even mention this study, never mind consider the impact its findings might have on the potential for the proposed trial to cause harm.

Non-GM Camelina is being grown in the UK, but the application does not acknowledge this or consider any potential impact of the trial on those growing and selling camelina.

The main justification for the trial is that the crop will eventually reduce the amount of wild fish caught and used as feed on fish farms. However, fish farming causes a wide range of environmental problems. Growing omega 3 oils on land will not make fish farming sustainable.

Some of the other traits in this trial appear to be intended for industrial uses. Arable land that could grow food for people should not be used as an open-air factory for industrial components.

Help us do more

Work opposing this trial is being funded by donations from our supporters.

If you can afford to contribute financially, please give what you can to allow us to make more noise about this risky and completely unnecessary trial.