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Growing GM Wheat in the UK – New campaign says “No Thanks!” EMBARGOED for 00.01 hrs 1 March 2012

Embargoed (1 Mar 2012)

Calls to: Pete Riley 07903 341 065

GM Freeze is today launching a new campaign – called “GM Wheat? No Thanks!” – to protest the Government’s approval of an open-air field trial of GM wheat at Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire. [1] The campaign calls on individuals, farmers and food businesses to pledge not to use or buy GM wheat, and demands that research money to be directed to more sustainable food production methods. [2]

The consent for the trial, granted by Defra in September 2011, is valid as of today, meaning the crop could be planted any day. [3]

The campaign is already supported by organisations from around the world, including the Real Bread Campaign, African Centre for Biosafety, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Scientists for Global Responsibility, Pesticide Action Network and War on Want. [4]

The GM wheat emits an alarm chemical that aphids give out when they are under attack. Rothamsted Research hopes the chemical will drive aphids off the crop and draw aphid predators to the area.

However even before the crop is planted research shows aphids may get used to the alarm and ignore it, making the release of GM into the environment both risky and pointless.

Encouraging natural aphid parasites and predators – like ladybirds – already works without the risks of GM to the UK’s farming, food chains and exports.

Commenting on the trial GM Freeze Campaign Director Pete Riley said:

Defra approved this GM trial against public and scientific objections. It is risky, unnecessary and unwanted.

The UK has successfully avoided the serious agronomic problems caused by GM in other parts of the world, like the rampant spread of super weeds in the US. We should be learning from that experience and protecting our food and farming, not chasing GM pipe dreams.

Our campaign offers the public a way to get informed and register objections to the Government’s insistence on pursuing GM crops. The easiest thing they can do is take a few seconds to sign our Pledge not to buy or use GM wheat for their homes or businesses.

We want the trial stopped immediately and all public funding currently aimed at GM redirected to research into genuinely sustainable agriculture, including agroecology and non-GM high-tech plant breeding.

One of the biggest mysteries of this GM wheat is who is expected to buy it. There is no market anywhere in the world for GM wheat, so why are we putting our countryside at risk?

Chris Young from the Real Bread Campaign added:

The Real Bread Campaign works to find ways to make the whole chain from seed to sandwich better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet. Has GM technology ever done anything that supports any of these aims? If it has, could the same or better results have been achieved by non-GM means? We need to be working with nature, not against it.



[1] See GM Wheat? NO THANKS! for briefings, background, action ideas and free materials.

[2] See “We pledge ‘NO’ to GM Wheat

[3] GM Freeze press release, 16 September 2011. “Defra Approval of UK GM Wheat Trial a Mistake

[4] Companies or groups wishing to add their support to the campaign should contact