Retailers need to talk more boldly and more honestly to consumers about the role GM could play in keeping food prices down and ensuring future food security, the Crop Protection Association has said.

Recent food price rises meant food security was front of mind for many consumers, providing fertile ground for a new, “more honest” debate about the role of genetic modification, said Dominic Dyer, chief executive of the CPA, which promotes the benefits of “plant science”, including GM.

However, retailers were still “holding back” when it came to publicly discussing these issues, Dyer said. “We already have good relations with many retailers behind the scenes - with the technical staff - but it’s not always the same on the corporate, public-facing side,” he said. “We need retailers to engage more, and be part of a frank debate about plant science, food policy and costs.”

Recent research for the CPA showed consumer attitudes to GM were starting to change, particularly among younger people, Dyer added. “People who are in their 20s today are very different to the Tony Blair generation - they are looking for practical solutions,” he said.

As part of its activities for 2012, the CPA was looking to work more closely with the Food & Drink Federation, Dyer added.