London (09.07.17) – One of the many arguments over GM-crops that has come down the ages is whether or not to use sugar derived from GM-sources.

In the UK, British Sugar whose growers supply some 8 million tonnes of sugar beet a year produces about 1.4 million tonnes of sugar from that source (cane is not grown in the UK). Many years ago British Sugar turned their back on GM-sugar beet although it had successfully been developed snd had undergone some trials in the UK (1). There has been a paucity of information since but, as far as we are aware British Sugar have not changed their position (2).

The great rival of beet sugar is cane sugar, produced in may tropical countries. Now Brazil, one of the major supplying countries. Last month Reuters reported that CTC Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira SA has obtained authorisation for the commercial use of a genetically modified sugarcane, setting a milestone for the country's highly competitive sugar industry as this is the first time such permission has been granted anywhere in the world. It would take at least three years for the first shipments of sugar produced from GM crops to reach export markets because of the pace of propagation of new cane varieties (3). If that coms about it will be interesting to see how British Sugar reacts: will their attitudes have changed in the past 10-15 years?


1. Alex Kirby (19.01.05), GM beet 'can benefit environment. BBC News (

2. GM Sugar Beet. Farmers Weekly (24.01.03) (

3. Ana Mano (08.06.17). Brazil approves world's first commercial GM sugarcane: developer CTC. Reuters (


  GM-sugar cane