FARM News Release

For immediate release:

Farmers expose exaggerated claims of GM research

Research claiming major savings for farmers taking up Genetically Modified(GM) crops are vastly exaggerated and do not reflect real growing conditions for working farmers. [1]

The research by Brooms Barn Research Station, based on published sources, claims the introduction of Genetically Modified Herbicide Tolerant (GMHT) sugar-beet would result in a major saving in weed control costs for growers. [2]

Analysis of the research by farms working farmer sugar-beet growers based on their and neighbouring farmers actual practices found that:

  • The costs given for conventional practice for comparison with GMcosts are a massive 75% higher than reality
  • Farmers would be charged a GM technology users fee of £20- £30/ha and have to purchase the herbicide at a price of 255% over generic herbicide.
  • Far from reducing costs, the contractual requirements of growing GMHT sugar beet would increase farmers growing costs by up to £46 per ha.
  • No costs have been built in for the segregation and labelling of GM crops and their produce. Such legislation is certain to be introduced by the EU should GM crops be commercialised in Europe
  • The research also enthuses about the environmental benefits of band spraying  a technique unlikely to be used outside of research station trial plots, that will significantly increase capital and operational costs, and which other published research shows could reduce yields by 10 - 31%
  • In the absence of any significant financial gain, GM crops are likely to be grown in a manner that maximises yield and maximises weed control.

    Peter Lundgren, farm Board Member and sugar-beet grower said, Farmers assessment of the costs and benefits of GM crops and the Governments public debate on the introduction of GM crops into the UK rely heavily on reviewing the science and assessing overall costs and benefits. farms analysis shows that even published and apparently peer-reviewed science can be flawed, seriously overestimate the cost savings, and bear little relation to the practical farming situation.

    With incomes under pressure and changes due to the EU sugar regime, its understandable that farmers are tempted by promises of increased yields and reduced costs. But UK farmers would better look to the real outcomes in the field and the market place, rather than those claimed in academic papers.[3] For further comment contact:

    Peter Lundgren: 07751 112303

    John Turner: 07860 663020

    John Sanderson: 07958 793298

    (Robin Maynard: 020 7349 5832 farm office)

    Notes to Editors

    1. Economic Consequences for UK farmers of growing GM herbicide tolerant sugar beet, by M J May, Brooms Barn Research Station Published in the Annals of the Association of Applied Biologists, (2003) 142: 41-48 Mr May is General Secretary of the Association of Applied Biologists in whose Annals, the research has been published.
    2. The average national saving for UK sugar beet growers if they could use the technology would be in excess of  £150 per hectare per year or £23 million per year (for all UK sugar-beet growers).
    3. farm is not opposed to biotechnology per se. However, the GM crops being brought to market do not in our view serve the best interests of farmers, consumers or the environment. farms standpoint on GM crops is available in more detail on our website www.farm.org.uk ENDS