A government-sponsored advertising campaign is being planned in a bid to “soften up” negative public opinion on widespread planting of GM crops, according to a leaked ministerial briefing memo.

Cabinet ministers will be given the option to approve the campaign this week. If it gets the go-ahead, UK consumers will be confronted with the pros and cons of GM production through television radio ads, posters and leaflets in supermarkets and public meetings. Scientific research backed by David King, the government’s chief scientific adviser, and Howard Dalton, the environment department’s chief scientific adviser, will be included in the adverts.

The leaked document, which was marked “restricted”, does admit that the campaign would be “highly controversial”.

Any such campaign is likely to run until next spring, when the government publishes the results of its GM plantings trials.