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for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

ECJ Ruling Scuppers Plans for Secret GM Test Sites

Immediate release (18 Feb 2009)

Calls to Pete Riley 0845 217 8992 or 07903 341 065

Calls for secrecy on GM crop test sites in the UK [1] have been scuppered by a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) published yesterday.

In the ruling [2] the ECJ said that under EU Directive 2001/18:

  • general description of the GMO or GMOs, name and address of the notifier, purpose of the release, location of release and intended uses;
  • environmental risk assessment.”

The ECJ also ruled out public order being used as a justification for keeping GM test site locations secret.

GM Freeze advocates an open and transparent process for the approval of GM test sites and commercial growing sites because of the ability of GM traits to spread to other crops and wild plants through cross-pollination or physical movement of seeds by humans, animals or wind/water.

The group believes openness is essential to protect the environment, the interests of farmers, gardeners and beekeepers and to maintain public trust in the regulatory processes.

Prevention of GM contamination from growing crops is a key issue that the governments of the UK have still to legislate on. Recently incidents of GM contamination of non-GM oilseed rape crops and trials have been recorded in Somerset and Scotland. Recent contamination incidents in the US, involving experiment GM strains of maize and rice, have caused major disruption to supply chains and resulted in protracted legal action. [3]

Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:

There are sound legal, democratic, scientific, economic and social reasons why GM sites need to be made public in advance of planting. Cases of GM contamination around the world are growing every year, and in many cases the cause of the contamination remains a mystery because record keeping about locations and separation distance has been so poor.

Making GM test sites secret or forcing them onto local communities will only increase suspicion and resentment. Rural communities need to work together to produce food and enhance the environment in a sustainable way – the last thing that’s needed is disruption caused by secret GM test sites.


Calls to Pete Riley 0845 217 8992 or 07903 341 065.

[1] See

[2] See
[3] For a history of GM contamination incidents around the world see