Genetically Modified herbicide tolerant sugar beet can be grown without any adverse effects on farmland bird populations, according to new research published on Wednesday (18 April).

Four years of Government Farm Scale Evaluation trials showed there was potential to reduce food for farmland birds if a ‘weed free’ management approach was adopted. But, analysis of this work by Brooms Barn found that leaving two crop rows in every 100 unsprayed, avoided adverse impacts on bird populations.

“The economic benefits for a hard-pressed farming sector are large,” said research leader, John Pidgeon, who estimated savings could be worth around £150/ha. “Such simple ways forward were not found during the unhelpfully polarised GM debate.”

“We need to move forward pragmatically on the basis of evidence because Europe is being left behind as it gets stuck in conventional farming systems.”

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