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for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

UK Field Trials

Experimental GM crops can be grown in open fields in the UK with permission from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). A list of current applications and consents is published online. When researchers apply for a new GM field trial there is a brief public consultation. GM Freeze submits evidence to most of these consultations and can help you understand how to get your concerns across. Applications can be made at any time so sign up to our email list to ensure you hear about them in time to act.

Rothamsted Research’s “Fishy” GM camelina trials

Field of Camelina Sativa

Rothamsted Research have been growing various forms of GM camelina in open field trials since 2014. In 2018, when they received consent for a trial including plants created by CRISPR genome editing, we said:

Instead of putting public health and the environment first, DEFRA has handed out a free pass to plant highly experimental genetically engineered crops in open fields without a proper risk assessment.

Rothamsted Research started off trying to persuade us that GM camelina would save the oceans but now they’re referring to it as a “chassis” on which they will produce an array of industrial compounds

Commenting on a new application. being considered by Defra in 2019, we said

Last year Rothamsted Research planted an illegal trial of genome edited plants and now they are planning a pick-and-mix trial that jumbles up over a hundred different genetic modifications. They are playing games with the regulations and Michael Gove needs to call time before they cause irrevocable damage to the ecosystem.

Coyau / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Our comments GM brassica and biofortified wheat trials proposed in 2019 by the John Innes Centre: 

Iron-rich wheat may sound positive but, even if it works, this crop is designed to improve iron levels in white flour. Adding a single nutrient to white sliced bread and doughnuts is no substitute for addressing the barriers that prevent people eating a balanced diet rich in wholegrains and other natural sources of iron.

Brassicas are known for their promiscuity so any escape from the proposed trial could spell disaster for local farmers and growers. This is an early research study that should be conducted in a contained environment. If the John Innes Centre hasn’t got a suitable facility it should invest in one, not carry out experiments in open fields.

A sack of potatoes sat in a ploughed fieldOur comments on GM potato trial consent in 2017:

Defra has signed a regulatory blank cheque in consenting to the planting of experimental potatoes which have not even been analysed in a test tube,much less properly studied under controlled greenhouse conditions

ripe wheat in a fieldOur comments on “improved photosynthesis” GM wheat trial consent in 2017:

World food production already far exceeds the needs of generations to come but people still go hungry. Nobody is starving because of some fundamental flaw with photosynthesis, they are starving because they are poor

 

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GM Freeze’s work opposing field trials is  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.