DEFRA responds to secret GM crop trial claims

DEFRA has said it cannot confirm reports suggesting that the government intends to conduct future genetically modified crop trials in secret.

The reports claimed that the government was considering a number of measures to prevent trials being wrecked by anti-GM protesters.

These included withholding details on the whereabouts of trial sites and carrying out trials at research locations with better security facilities.

The government was also thought to be considering a crackdown on the protesters themselves by using laws devised to tackle animal rights activists.

But a DEFRA official told Farmers Weekly that it was taking stock of the situation and that no announcements had been made on the measures.

However, the official added: “Sensible and credible decisions on GM organisms cannot be taken without solid scientific evidence.

“The government has always maintained that human and environmental health are paramount, but the destruction and vandalism of GM crop trials risks withholding potential benefits to agriculture while simultaneously harming the UK’s science base.”

“We need to see if they [GM foods] have a contribution to make – and we won’t know the answer unless we run controlled experiments,” said Hilary Benn, the DEFRA secretary.

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