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for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

Action: Say NO to GM potato trial

Please email by 22 April to let Michael Gove know that you do not want GM potato field trial reference 19/R29/01 to go ahead.

The Sainsbury Laboratory has applied for permission to plant experimental GM potatoes at farms in Suffolk and Cambridge. GM Freeze has submitted a detailed and fully referenced response but it is important that Defra also hears from concerned individuals and groups on or before Monday 22 April 2019 (Easter Monday).

You can email including the application reference number 19/R29/01 in the subject, 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 19/R29/01.

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 19/R29/01 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 as this could lead to your submission being side-lined.
  • Include your credentials if relevant (eg if you grow or work with potatoes, or if you are a scientist).
  • Be polite and avoid making claims you cannot back up. We can provide references for all of the points listed below.
  • Send a copy of your objection to your MP.
  • Please send us a copy of your submission and any replies you receive.

Potatoes harvested in a field

What’s actually wrong with this trial?

The potato plants have been subjected to several different genetic changes, some of which are intended to work together while others are designed to achieve completely different things, all at once. This increases the risk of unexpected interactions.

The potato plants have been modified using new forms of GM that “silence” or switch off genes, rather than adding new ones. Far from being safer than more familiar GM techniques, this approach introduces many new ways for things to go wrong.

The GM potato plants are resistant to certain herbicides. The Sainsbury’s Lab say that this is only to allow them to identify the modified plants but if the potatoes ever get grown commercially it will not be possible to stop growers spraying those herbicides repeatedly and causing the kind of environmental harm that has been seen with Roundup Ready GM crops.

The Sainsbury’s Lab only intend to monitor the trial site for “volunteers” for two years, which is not adequate. Anyone who has grown potatoes will be able to tell you that tubers can easily remain hidden in the soil and pop up as a new plant many years later.


Other ways to take action

  • 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 full multi-agency response. This will be submitted early so please get in touch before Monday 8 April March.

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 risky GM field trials.