Soil Association : GM

GM (Genetic modification)

We campaign against the use of genetically modified (GM) ingredients in human and animal food, and against the commercial planting of GM crops in the UK. This position is shared by the organic movement worldwide and the majority of the public.

GM drives out and destroys the systems that international scientists agree we need to feed the world. We need farming that helps poorer African and Asian farmers produce food, not farming that helps Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto produce profits. We support practical innovation that addresses real needs, is genuinely sustainable and puts farmers in control of their livelihoods.

Feeding the world

Owen Paterson is wrong to claim GM crops will help feed the world. In fact, they will make it harder to feed the world because they will drive out and destroy the farming systems that international scientists and development charities agree we need to combat world hunger.

GM supporters have been promising higher food yields and other benefits for over 20 years, without a single commercial example of this actually happening.

Worse for wildlife

UK scientific research found GM crops are worse for wildlife. The only large-scale farm-based research project in the world ever to look at the impact of GM crops on wildlife was carried out in the UK between 1999 and 2004 (the Farm Scale Evaluation). Scientists found that overall GM crops were worse for farm wildlife than non-GM crops.

Organic farms are havens for wildlife and provide homes for bees, birds and butterflies - up to 50% more than non-organic farms.

Locking farmers in

GM crops are not delivering what they promised. Where GM crops have been planted they are locking farmers into buying inputs and costly seed, while encouraging resistant weeds and insects and not delivering the increased yields as promised. They have increased the use of weedkillers not reduced it.

Three chemical companies – Monsanto, Syngenta, and Bayer – are responsible for virtually all commercially released genetically modified crops.

Changing the focus

The UK Government should focus on agroecological farming systems. The UK Government should not look to pursue outdated GM technology but should instead focus on innovative agricultural research including agroecological systems such as organic farming which produce good yields of crops with far lower inputs and producing food with higher animal welfare, lower pollution, and with more wildlife and jobs on farms.

UK scientists have recently announced they have achieved a 30% increase in wheat yield without using GM, demonstrating the truth of what opponents of GM have been saying for 20 years, namely that there is more potential in modern non-GM crop breeding technologies than there is in GM crops.

What consumers want

According to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), shoppers want more information about GM and how it is getting into our food. In the UK, most non-organic meat, milk and eggs are from animals fed on GM animal feed. Government Ministers are ignoring a recent FSA study which found that two in three people want any food derived from animals fed on GM to declare the fact on the label.

China recently decided not to grow any GM food crops, as did Kenya, and there is a continuing, growing debate in the USA, where the public are demanding accurate labelling of GM food.

The GM battle is far from overSupport our appeal

The GM battle is far from over - we urgently need your continuing support to fund our GM campaigning and research, to ensure that farmers continue to have the right to farm without GM and that the public can choose to have a GM free diet. Please help if you can.

Our reports and research

  • GM golden rice briefing, 2013 [PDF, 452 KB]
    This briefing paper looks at claims that GM golden rice can solve the problem of Vitamin A deficiency, and considers other solutions and looks to the Philippines where Vitamin A deficiency in young children has fallen by 25% in just 5 years. This briefing is also available as a leaflet to download [PDF, 284 KB].
  • The pro-GM lobby's seven sins against science, Peter Melchett, 17 December 2012
    The role that GM food should play in our food chain is a highly contested political issue. One interesting facet of the debate has been the pro-GM lobby's interest in staking the 'scientific high-ground'; simultaneously positioning itself as the voice of reason and progress, while painting its opponents as unsophisticated 'anti-science' luddites, whose arguments are full of dogma and emotion, but lack scientific rigour. In this essay Peter Melchett explores how such crude characterisations are themselves based on logic that is itself profoundly damaging to the concept and representation of 'science' in our national culture.
  • Telling porkies: The big fat lie about doubling food production, 2009 [PDF, 902 KB]
    This report reveals that claims that we need to double global food production by 2050, or 50% by 2030, are wrong.
  • Land of the GM-free, 2008 [PDF, 986 KB]
    A briefing on the launch of a major new non-GM labelling initiative in the US, the latest on US farmers rejection of new GM crops and the staggering collapse in the market for Monsanto's GM milk hormone.
  • GM crops - the health effects, 2008 [PDF, 169 KB]
    An investigation into the health effects of GM crops as it begins to emerge that if they are fed to animals, small amounts of GM material appear in the resulting meat and dairy products.
  • Silent invasion - the hidden use of GM crops in livestock feed, 2007 [PDF, 1.4 MB]
    An investigation into the use of GM animal feed which finds that large quantities are being used in the UK to produce our food. This means that most of the non-organic milk, dairy products and pork sold in the UK is from GM-fed animals.
  • Seeds of doubt - North American farmers' experiences of GM crops, 2002 [PDF, 1.1 MB]
    This report is the first to reveal the serious widespread impacts of GM crops in North America on the food and farming industry, where three-quarters of the world’s GM food is grown. It is the most comprehensive review of the situation to be produced from a non-biotechnology industry perspective.


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Golden rice

Golden rice has not provided the instant, miracle cure to blindness that pro-GM scientists, GM companies and some politicians claimed it would. Read more about solutions that do work...