Food and farming minister Jeff Rooker has launched a scathing attack on people who criticise genetically modified crops without looking at the science behind them.

Speaking at a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference, Lord Rooker said opposition to GM crops was “a religion based on perception” which was affecting food production across the world.

“I will not accept arguments that are just based on perception,” he said.

“We have to take up and challenge those who pontificate because it’s a new science yet there are automatic barriers.”

Criticising anti-GM protestors who destroy crop testing sites, Lord Rooker said the country was “being taken for a ride” unless experiments were allowed to take place to look into the possible benefits of GM crops.

“There is no evidence that anyone’s ever been damaged by GM food,” he said.

“On the other hand, a massive consumer benefit to GM technology hasn’t been proved yet.

“We need to allow experiments to take place to see what the benefits, if any, GM crops could bring.”