Do You Want Experimental GM Barley In Open Fields?

15th February 2022 / United Kingdom
Do You Want Experimental GM Barley In Open Fields?

GM developers at the Cambridge University Crop Science Centre have applied for permission to plant experimental GM barley in open fields for the next five years.

However, the research is at too early a stage to justify an open field trial. No scientific papers have been published in a peer-reviewed journal and some parts of the trial are focused on general learning about the relationship between barley plants and soil-dwelling fungi. More research should be done in a contained environment before growing these experimental plants in an open field.

The GM developers have only checked for the DNA changes that they intended to make. They should use whole-genome sequencing to check for errors and unexpected changes that could have occurred anywhere in the barley’s DNA.

The research ultimately aims to improve interactions between the GM barley and fungi that live in the soil and are known as arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi or AMF. Organic farming, use of rotation and other measures to improve soil health will achieve this same aim in a more holistic way – working with nature rather than trying to overpower it.



GM Freeze is working on a detailed submission, but it is important that Defra also hears from concerned individuals and groups on or before Saturday 19 February.

You can email including the application reference number 21/R54/01 in the subject line, or write to: GM Team, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Second Floor, Seacole Building, Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF, stating the application reference number 21/R54/01. Full details of the application and the public consultation are published on the Defra website.

Our tips

  • Make it clear you are responding to the consultation on application number 21/R54/01 and that you want the trial to be stopped.
  • Use your own words as this will get more attention.
  • Be polite but express how your feel.
  • If you have expertise in a relevant area (eg genetics, farming, food production or brewing, mycology) say so.
  • Send a copy of your objection to your MP.
  • Please also send us a copy of your submission and any replies you receive.



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