The Real Bread Campaign and the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union were among 27 organisations that yesterday (3 June), issued a statement calling for transparency on current GM wheat trials.

The letter to Rothamsted Research challenged the company, the government and related funding bodies to be more open and transparent about the aims of the current trials.

It also asked them to justify the expenditure of public money - £1.28m-worth of taxpayers’ money has so far been spent on the trials, in the form of grants from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) - when it said alternative aphid control methods in wheat had been shown to be effective.

In September 2011 Defra granted Rothamsted Research permission, to trial two versions of GM wheat, genetically modified to emit aphid repelling pheromones in spring 2012 and 2013. An application to release the same GM wheat in autumn 2013 is currently being considered by Defra.

Pete Riley, of campaign group GM Freeze, said: “From the information currently available, the scientific objectives of these GM trials are not at all clear, and the decision to publicly fund the project was not made in an open or transparent manner.

“There is currently no GM wheat grown commercially anywhere on the planet, and we feel Rothamsted and the BBSRC needs to explain why this project took priority over other non-GM agriculture research projects that could be have delivered  benefits more quickly while commanding public support.”