Royal Society rejects 'anti-GM' report

By Severin Carrell

21 September 2003

The Government's GM crop trials have been hit by a scientific row after the Royal Society refused to publish a crucial report on the tests.

In one of the most eagerly awaited scientific announcements for decades, the official results of the exhaustive farm-scale tests on three GM crops are due to be published by the Royal Society on 16 October.

The results, after three years of trials of GM maize, oilseed rape and sugar beet at some 200 sites, are expected to reveal that GM crops can harm wildlife. The results will play a crucial role in dictating government policy on GM foods.

But the society has infuriated the scientists who ran the trials by rejecting one of their reports, which explains and summarises the complex results of the eight technical reports that it will be publishing next month. The row will reignite allegations that the Royal Society is biased in favour of GM foods.

A senior source familiar with the trials said this paper was the most important and accessible document of all.

The society insisted that Professor Samir Zeki, who edits its journal, was advised by the scientists who peer-reviewed the controversial paper not to publish it because it contained no new data.

Michael Meacher, the former environment minister who originally set up the crop trials, said the refusal to publish the overview paper would "arouse suspicions" about the society's motives.