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.
URGENT: Help us object to the release of millions of experimental camelina plants with synthetic genes based on human, goat, mouse and cattle DNA.
GM wheat needs proper safety checks
A private company plans to grow experimental GM wheat near St Albans. The developers have not published their work for peer review and if they examined the DNA of the plants in enough detail to check for unexpected changes they, didn’t include the results in their application for a field trial. That’s simply not good enough and GM Freeze was joined by 24 other organisations in asking Defra to say NO.
GM barley is no substitute for good soil health
In early 2022 Cambridge University Crop Science Centre applied for consent to release GM barley as part of early research into the relationship between crops and helpful soil fungi. They should instead be looking to organic farming, use of rotation and other holistic methods to improve soil health – as we made clear in a detailed objection submitted on behalf of 20 different organisations.
GM wheat for burnt toast and “healthy” doughnuts
In August 2021, the UK Government allowed Rothamsted Research to plant “low acrylamide” GM wheat. The wheat’s DNA has been changed to reduce the production of a chemical that may cause cancer but that is associated with burnt toast rather than sensibly prepared wheat products. Commenting on the decision to allow the release of this highly experimental GMO we said:
It’s hard to understand the thinking that leads GM developers to decide that mutilating the DNA of a staple food crop is a more effective response to the disputed dangers of burnt toast than teaching people how to use a toaster properly.
See our detailed consultation response on behalf of 28 organisations.
Separately, the John Innes Centre has been growing GM wheat since 2019. Lodging an objection before the first round of trials were approved, we commented:
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.
See our detailed responses to the most recent application as well as the earlier GM wheat and GM Brassica field trials at the John Innes Centre.
Rothamsted Research’s “Fishy” GM camelina trials
Rothamsted Research have been growing various forms of GM camelina in open field trials since 2014. In May 2019 they received consent for another five years of trials, despite not having even declared exactly what genetic modifications will be going into the ground. Commenting when their application went in, 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.
See our detailed response to the 2019 trial application, on behalf of 35 different organisations.
Help us do more
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.