Defra - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Science Search

Science and Research Projects

Return to Science Search homepage   Return to Project List

Independent systematic review of published material on the environmental and economic impacts of GM crops - CB0302

Globally there continues to be a steady increase in the area commercially cultivated to GM crops. Accompanying this increase in cultivation is an increase in publications assessing the environmental and economic pros and cons from the uptake and use of the GM technology. With all of this information coming into existence it is important that policy and decision makers are presented with some form of impartial, robust and accurate appraisal of this information to assist them with their advice to government.

The Government’s current policy on GM crops was established in a Parliamentary statement made in March 2004. In this statement the Government concluded that there was no scientific evidence to support a blanket ban on GM crop cultivation in the UK. The Government did propose, however, that a case-by-case safety assessment was needed and that it would continue in a precautionary approach regarding agreements on the release of any GM crops. Such agreements would only be made on the provision of evidence demonstrating that the cultivation of the GM crop did not pose an unacceptable risk to human or environmental health.

In order to ensure that this policy continues to reflect the latest scientific evidence available on the safety of GM it is proposed that a review of the last 5 years peer reviewed and grey literature on GM crop technology be carried out. In order to achieve this SAC has compiled a team of experts from a number of disciplines and external companies to undertake a systematic review of this literature. The aim of the review will be to provide clearly linked reviews; one on the economic and agronomic impacts of the adoption of GM crops and a second on the environmental impacts. The use of a systematic review processes ion both cases will improve the identification and provision of evidence from suitable literature for use in the support of policy in these areas.

As a consequence of this work the SAC will be in a position to provide an up to date clear assessment of the latest literature to policy makers and others. Ultimately it would be hoped that the review be used as the basis for decision as to whether existing government policy on GM is sound or whether it needs to be changed to better reflect newer scientific evidence on the impact of GM crops.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : Environmental impacts of the global cultivation of GM crops   (608k)
• FRP - Final Report : Farm-level economic impacts of the global cultivation of GM crops   (432k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2010

To: 2011

Cost: £55,333
Contractor / Funded Organisations
SAC Commercial Ltd
Economic Research              
Environmental Impact              
Genetically modified food and crops              
GM Food              
GM Non-Food              
GM Risk Assessment              
Fields of Study
Biotechnology and GMOs