GM Science Review: Press Release, 22 January 2004

GM Science Review Final Report

The GM Science Review Panel's second report into GM crops and food was published today. With the first report, published last summer, this completes the independent review of current scientific knowledge on GM crops and foods.

The second phase of the expert panel's work has considered the report of the public debate, new scientific developments since the first report including the Farm Scale Evaluation (FSE) results, and feedback on the first report.

Today's report has clarified a number of points and explores some issues in more detail but has not altered the first report's original findings. The first report found no scientific case for ruling out all GM crops and their products, but nor did it give blanket approval. It addressed the general characteristics of GM, but emphasised that GM is not a single homogeneous technology and its applications should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The second phase of the GM Science Review found that:

  • none of the new research published since the first Report significantly altered the earlier conclusions;

  • the FSEs were of high scientific calibre. The panel found that if GM herbicide tolerant crops are managed as in the FSEs, a significant reduction would be expected in weeds with GMHT beet and spring oilseed rape, whereas the opposite would be found with maize. These effects arise from the herbicides and are not a direct consequence of the GM process. The different findings for different GM crops reinforced the conclusion of the first Science Review that GM crops must be assessed on a case-by-case basis; and

  • the first report covered the issues raised by the Public Debate Report: 'GM Nation?' and the foundation discussion workshops provided a useful framework for the Science Review.

The Science Review Panel's conclusions on FSEs were released in advance of the second report so they could be submitted to the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) for consideration before they put their advice to Government.

The Science Review first report attracted wide interest, with over 20,000 copies downloaded from the web. At the subsequent four open meetings the panel examined in detail the broad range of comments and questions on the First Report, and considered any implications for the original findings.

The Science Review reports have been collectively produced by a panel with a wide range of expertise and views on GM. The Government's Chief Scientific Adviser Sir David King who chaired the panel said:

"The Science Review has systematically examined the issue of GM crops in the UK and provides a comprehensive scientific analysis. The exhaustive work of my panel will enable research and policy debates on GM to be informed by the most up to date and sound scientific evidence.

"The Science Review has been widely regarded as a positive and useful contribution to the UK Government's wider GM dialogue. The innovative process of the GM Science Review, particularly the way it has been structured on the issues and concerns raised by public and experts alike, provides important lessons and a model for the future."

Notes to Editors

1. The GM Science Review was requested by the Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs with the agreement of Ministers in the devolved administrations. The Public Debate "GM Nation?" and the Strategy Unit report on the costs and benefits of GM crops have been the other strands in the GM dialogue aimed at engaging the public and assisting the Government with future GM policy decisions.

2. The GM Science Review Panel's First Report was published on 21 July 2003.

3. The full Science Review (including the first and second report), full list of panel members and more information is available at