Two Out Of Three Strains 'Should Not Be Grown'
Two of the three GM crops grown experimentally in Britain, oil seed rape and sugar beet, appear more harmful to the environment than conventional crops and should not be grown in the UK, scientists are expected to tell the government next week.
The Guardian has learned that the scientists will conclude that growing these crops is damaging to plant and insect life.
The judgment will be a serious setback to the GM lobby in the UK and Europe, reopening the acrimonious debate about GM food.
The third crop, GM maize, allows the survival of more weeds and insects and might be recommended for approval, though some scientists still have reservations.
The results of the three years of field scale trials - the largest scientific experiment of its type on GM crops undertaken anywhere in the world - will be published next Friday by the august Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. The results have been a closely guarded secret for months, and will be studied by scientists, farmers, food companies and governments across the world.
The study will include eight peer-reviewed papers about the effect of growing GM crops and accompanying herbicides on the plants and animals living in the fields around. The papers compare the GM fields with conventional crops grown in adjacent fields.
The overwhelming public hostility in the UK to GM crops has not been shared by scientists or the government but the results of the field scale trials are expected to be a jolt to the enthusiasts. The Royal Society refused to publish a ninth paper produced by the scientific group.
The Society's explanation was that the ninth paper was not a scientific document but a summary of findings and in effect a recommendation to the advisory committee on releases to the environment - the expert quango. The scientists involved will now themselves publish this summary at the same time as the other eight papers, concluding that two of the three crops should not be grown.
The trials were set up four years ago by the former environment minister, Michael Meacher, urged on by English Nature, the government's watchdog on the natural world, which feared that the UK's already declining farmland species might be further damaged by the introduction of GM crops.