Beyond GM was established in 2014 as an independent initiative with the goal of bringing a disenfranchised public back into the discussions around genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Our founders bring a wealth of experience in food, farming, health, environment, advocacy and communication to the organisation and our goal is to raise the level of the debate on GMOs in food and farming; to make it more challenging and to broaden the discussion beyond the often abstract and impenetrable dialogues of laboratory science and academia into a real world context of social, ethical, environmental and citizen concerns. We are UK-based but our reach is European.
We do not try to hide the fact that we believe there are multiple legitimate and unanswered questions around the use of genetic technologies in our food system, nor our support for what could broadly be termed an ‘agroecological model’ of farming that provides an effective, and in many ways more democratic and easily adaptable approach to food production.
Since our launch we have been responsible for several high-profile activities aimed at increasing awareness of an issue that affects everyone who eats one that is developing rapidly and globally and yet has slipped below the radar of public consciousness and the media.
We have a large, active and growing public platform, but we reach out to others as well and the main vehicle through which we do this is our A Bigger Conversation initiative which brings us into discussion with a much wider group of scientists, academics, ethicists, plant breeders, policymakers and others, representing all points – and points of view – on the agricultural genetic engineering spectrum. Much of our policy work is conducted through this initiative.
Pat Thomas is an award-winning campaigner, journalist and author. A former editor of the Ecologist magazine Pat has run campaigns for Paul McCartney’s Meat-Free Monday, Compassion in World Farming and Neal’s Yard Remedies. In 2011, her work leading the campaign, Cows Belong in Fields, won CIWF the Observer Ethical Award for Campaigner of the Year. In 2014 she co-founded the campaigning group, Beyond GM.
Pat has a diploma in psychotherapy. She is also the author more than 40 books for adults and children and was inducted into Who’s Who in 2014. In addition to her work with Beyond GM, Pat works occasionally with the investigative agency, Ecostorm. She continues to write in a freelance capacity and makes regular public speaking and media appearances. She has been a trustee of the Soil Association and the Organic Research Centre as well as the investigative media agency, Eyewitness in the UK and is currently on the advisory board of GMO Free USA.
Lawrence Woodward O.B.E. Co-founder and former Director of the Organic Research Centre – Elm Farm, Lawrence was awarded an OBE in 2001 for services to organic farming, having played a pivotal role in the strategic and practical development of the organic sector in the UK and internationally.
He was the founding chairman of the Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative (OMSCo), Organic Arable, Organic Seed Producers Ltd, the European Consortium of Organic Plant Breeders and the Organic Resource Agency (ORA). He is a former trustee of the New Economics Foundation, the Soil Association and is a past President of the International Federation of Agricultural Movements (IFOAM).
Amongst other activities he currently site on the board of Whole Health Agriculture and acts as an advisor to Organic Research Centre, the Oxford Real Farming Conference, and several projects related to seed production, organic farming techniques and health.