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for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

Action: Say NO to new GM wheat trial

The John Innes Centre has applied for permission to plant GM wheat at their farm in Norwich. Please let Defra know by 4 March 2019 that you do not want this trial to go ahead.

GM Freeze will be submitting a detailed objection but it is important that Defra also hears from concerned individuals and groups on or before Monday 4 March.

You can email (including application reference 19/R52/02 in the subject) or write to GM Team, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Second Floor, Seacole Building, Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF.

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/R52/02 and that you do not want the trial to go ahead.
  • Use your own words. The notes below will help but don’t copy and paste as this could lead to your submission being side-lined.
  • Be polite and avoid making 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.
  • Please send us a copy of your submission and any replies you receive.

ripe wheat field

What’s wrong with this trial?

This project aims to create wheat with high iron levels. That sounds helpful but there are many problems and risks, including:

Genes have been added to make the plants resistant to two different antibiotics. If these genes spread to other organisms, they could add to the growing problem of antibiotic resistant infections.

GM wheat has a history of escaping from field trials including three incidents in the United States where experimental GM wheat appeared many years after field trials, in three different states. The cause of these escapes has never been identified and they show us that GM wheat is particularly hard to contain.

Iron 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 have higher iron levels.

This wheat has been designed to improve iron levels in white flour. Increasing the levels of one nutrient in foods like white sliced bread and doughnuts will not encourage or support people to eat a balanced diet rich in wholegrains and a wide range of vegetables.

The genetic modification could lead to increased levels of harmful heavy metals in the GM wheat.

Too much iron can be dangerous, especially to vulnerable groups. If you have haemochromatosis or need to be careful about your iron intake for any reason, it would be a good idea to mention this in your submission.


Other ways to take action

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.