Neither farmers considering growing genetically modified crops or non-GM farmers seeking to protect their businesses from contamination by GM crops would be able to find anyone willing to give them insurance, according to a survey.

A survey of the principle insurance underwriters in the UK, carried out by independent farm lobby group Farm, revealed that many companies were opposed to taking on the risks of insuring GM crops.

All the companies surveyed felt that too little was known about the long term effects of growing these crops on human health and the environment to be able to offer any form of cover, Farm said.

“50 years ago insurers were writing policies for asbestos without a care in the world – now they are facing claims of hundreds of millions of pounds. The insurance industry has learned to be wary of new things, and there is a real feeling that GM could come back and bite you in five years time,” said one company spokesperson.

A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers (ABI), however, accused Farm of “scaremongering”, and said it would look to provide insurance cover when the risks, if there are any, are known, reported Reuters.

A spokeswoman for AXA confirmed that the company’s agriculture unit, BiB Underwriters, had taken part in Farm’s survey and said it backed BIB’s decision to turn down any policy application associated with GM crops.