New laws may protect organic producers whose crops are at risk of contamination from genetically modified crops.

Environment minister Michael Meacher said that current legislation was inadequate to protect organic farmers whose businesses suffered because of cross-contamination from GM crops grown nearby. Meacher indicated that new European liability laws that had been proposed might also not be sufficient, so laws may be implemented at national level.

Peter Melchett, policy director of the Soil Association, the organic farming body, welcomed the move, saying: “The current law will not provide any protection at all for non-GM farmers who lose income because of GM contamination. There are hundreds of organic farmers in the US and Canada who have lost money – we don’t want that happening here.”

Such a move is likely to be vigorously protested by biotech groups.