The British government is to give the green light for genetically modified crops to be grown in the UK despite evidence of considerable public resistance, cabinet committee papers passed to the Guardian newspaper reveal.

The leaked minutes indicate that government ministers took the decision eight days ago to permit the first commercial plantings of GM maize, even though they are aware that the public is unlikely to be receptive.

There is a strong groundswell of opposition to the introduction of genetically modified crops, with a string of public opinion surveys indicating a distaste for the technology.

Nevertheless, ministers are reported to have decided that simply upholding a ban on GM crops would be “the easy way out” and “an irrational way for the government to proceed,” the paper reported.

The leaked minutes of the committee meeting, which was attended by senior cabinet ministers including foreign secretary Jack Straw and environment secretary Margaret Beckett, say optimistically: “Opposition might eventually be worn down by solid, authoritative scientific argument.”