A Yorkshire arable farmer who took part in the UK Government’s genetically modified crop Farm-Scale Evaluations over 20 years ago has criticised the BBC for 'failing to respect the science' in its coverage of genetic engineering in food and agriculture.

Phil Lodge, who farms on the outskirts of Doncaster, explained his reasons for taking part in the GM crop trials: “Having visited Manitoba and Saskatchewan in Canada in the 1990’s both pre- and post-adoption of GM canola, I was interested in the technology’s potential here in Britain.

"The economic and environmental benefits were clear. Scott Day, a pioneering Manitoba zero-till farmer, clocked 600 tractor hours/year pre-GM and 150 tractor hours/year with GM and zero-till, saving oceans of fuel on prairies and delivering benefits for soil conservation and wildlife.

“The Canadian experience has been replicated around the world. Millions of farmers, in both developed and developing countries, are choosing GM technology because it works. GM crops are supporting major economic and environmental benefits in terms of increased yields, fewer pesticide sprays, less soil erosion and reduced greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

But despite more than 25 years of large-scale commercial cultivation of GM crops around the world, without a single negative health outcome for humans or animals, reporting of the issue in the British media continues to imply that genetic engineering remains highly controversial and uncertain.

“Where the BBC seems to accept the scientific evidence behind man-made climate change, and no longer pursues a policy of ‘false balance’ by giving equal airtime to climate change sceptics, the same cannot be said of their treatment of GMOs and genetic engineering in agriculture.

“Next time you tune in to ‘Countryfile’ or ‘Farming Today’, rest assured that if genetic engineering is on the agenda, the considered views of eminent scientists will be counter-balanced by unsubstantiated rants from activist campaigners, claiming ‘unknown effects’ or ‘long-term risks'," said Mr Lodge.

“How long it will take before the global weight of scientific evidence behind the safety and efficacy of GM crops finally seeps into the consciousness of BBC journalists, editors and producers?”