Skip to content
for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

GM Wheat Outcrosses Six Times More Than Non-GM

Immediate release (3 May 2012)

Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341 065

Recent research has found that varieties of GM wheat are outcrossing to other plants at a rate six times higher than conventional varieties. [1]

These findings, along with other data showing wheat can outcross from commercial fields to crops over 2.75 kilometres away, are reviewed in a new briefing published today by GM Freeze. [2]

Although wheat is largely self-pollinating the new data show the difficulties of preventing contamination if GM wheat is ever grown commercially.

Further difficulties in keeping GM and non-GM wheat seed and grain separate throughout the food web are also highlighted. Comingling of the two crops even at low level due to carelessness, poor standards or human error would cause considerable problems for any farmer or producer committed to producing non-GM bakery products or animal feed.

The costs of cleaning up any GM contamination in wheat would fall on farmers, seed merchants, millers, feed merchants, bakers and retailers because the GM industry refused to accept liability for it’s products. This has been seen in earlier examples of contamination incidents of long-grain rice in the US and flax in Canada. [3]

Commenting Pete Riley Campaign Director said:

If GM wheat is ever grown on a commercial scale contamination will be inevitable either through outcrossing or mixing of seeds and grains. Even pro-GM sources now admit this, but they say it doesn’t matter.

Experience from the US and Canada shows that even small experimental plots can cause widespread contamination and disruption of the food chain, with considerable costs to food companies and farmers, including widespread loss of export markets.

Biotech companies have so far been very reluctant to compensate farmers and companies in the food chain without court action compelling them to pay up. The clean up costs of any GM contamination in wheat products like flour or bread will fall on anyone but the biotech companies.

The presence of GM wheat in fields will immediately impose additional costs to trace and monitor all wheat crops from field to plate to ensure that no contamination has taken place.

EU consumers have made it clear that they don’t want GM food, and the simple way to ensure markets are protected is to stay well away from GM wheat in the first place. This is why bakers and food businesses like the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union and Chef Raymond Blanc support our call to halt the GM wheat trial in Hertfordshire.



[1] Rieben S, Kalinina O, Schmid B and Zeller SL, 2011. “Gene Flow in Genetically Modified Wheat”. PLoS ONE 6(12): e29730. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029730

[2] GM Freeze, 2012. GM wheat: Cross pollination and contamination

[3] GM Freeze, 2010. GM in The Dock: US Courts step in where regulators fail. Briefing III: Bayer brought to book for contaminating rice


GM Freeze, 2009. GM Flax Containation from Canada