The first UK farm-scale trials of genetically modified crops may start next month, the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions is expected to announce shortly.
The four-year trials are expected to be limited to a few sites. Genetically modified maize and oil seed rape may be the first crops planted. The trials will allow scientists to see the effects of GM growing on the wider environment.
Rumours raged this week suggesting GM companies had agreed to extend to three years their 12-month agreement not to press ahead with commercial growing of GM crops in the UK. A DETR spokesman said talks with industry were ongoing. "If further work is required we may go back to industry and say let's have another look."
An industry spokesman said there was no such three-year deal.