New rules on growing genetically modified crops were announced by the Government yesterday.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, aims to ensure that any growing of these crops in England will not disadvantage other farmers.
Strict separation distances between GM crops and their conventional counterparts are planned.
The Government said that under EU rules, no GM crops will be grown in the UK unless scientific evidence shows they are safe for human health and the environment, and no commercial GM cultivation is expected here before 2009 at the earliest.
Should any GM crops with EU safety approval be grown here in future, the Government said it wants a well researched framework of practical measures in place to ensure that GM and non-GM production can coexist but remain separate.
The consultation is part of the process to develop that framework.
The announcement means that anyone planning to grow GM crops like maize or oilseed rape will have to ensure that they observe the required separation distance, and where necessary notify neighbouring farmers, to minimise GM cross-pollination.
Environment Minister Ian Pearson (Lab Dudley South: "Our top priority is protecting consumers and the environment. We have a strict EU regime in place which ensures only GM crops that are safe for human health and the environment could be grown in the UK.
"No GMs suitable for UK conditions have met this requirement so far, and today's proposals are not a green light for GM crops.
"But we have a responsibility to be fully prepared if crops which meet the safety criteria and developed and grown here in future."