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The Farm Scale Evaluations

The final results of the Farm Scale Evaluations (FSEs) of herbicide tolerant GM crops, the biggest study of the environmental impact of GM crops conducted anywhere in the world, are now available.

The FSEs were a four-year programme of research by independent researchers aimed at studying the effect, if any, that the management practices associated with Genetically Modified Herbicide Tolerant (GMHT) crops might have on farmland wildlife, when compared with weed control used with non-GM crops.

All of the field trials are now complete. The results for the three spring sown crops, maize, beet and spring oilseed rape, were published in 2003. The results for winter oilseed rape were published on 21 March 2005. Details of how they can be obtained are given below.

The Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) established a sub-group to consider the wider issues raised by the FSE. The report produced by the sub-group, published on 17 March 2006, can be found on the ACRE website.

GM crops: Non technical summary, effects on farmland wildlife

A new non-technical summary of the main findings for all four crops tested in the FSE has been produced by the research team and scientific steering committee, and published on 21 March 2005. This document is available to download in Adobe Acrobat format [PDF] (430 KB).

Further information and results

Further Sampling of Soil Seed Bank and Seedling Emergence

The core studies of the farm-scale evaluations were concerned with measurements made during the growing season of the GM and non-GM comparator crops. Follow-on studies monitored numbers of weed seeds in the soil were for two years following the year in which the GM crops have been grown. Results of this follow-on work were published on 28th September 2005. For further information please see our summary page for the relevant research project.

Report on “Evaluation of the Organisation and Management of the GMHT Farm Scale Evaluations (FSEs)”

Brian Jamieson & Associates were commissioned in 2004 to carry out an ex-post evaluation of the planning, organisation, management and communication of the Farm Scale Evaluations project and derive conclusions of potential benefit to similar studies in the future. This study involved a review of previous reports and assessments of the FSE, interviews with key participants and a workshop discussion of the emerging findings. The study by Brian Jamieson & Associates was funded in equal parts by BBSRC, NERC and Defra.

Environmental Audit Committee inquiry

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee has conducted an inquiry entitled 'GM foods - Evaluating the Farm Scale Trials'. This was published on 5 March 2004. The Government has responded [PDF] (40 KB) to this report and this was published by the Environmental Audit Committee on 5 May 2004.

Earlier Information

Background material on the farm-scale evaluations, including fact sheets, SSC minutes, interim reports, and more, is indexed below.




Page last modified 14 May, 2007

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs