Rising commodity prices could finally make the public receptive to arguments for GM food, influential food scientist Professor Peter Lillford told a House of Lords inquiry this week.

Lillford, now a biology professor at the University of York, was chief scientist at Unilever when it supplied the first GM products to UK supermarkets.

"We spent a lot of time educating the market and people bought it," he said. But as scare stories circulated in the face of public unease, Unilever pulled out, he said.

"We won't go back unless we can persuade the public of the benefits."