Europe risks being left behind on GM technology, says UK minister

By Caroline SCOTT-THOMAS contact

- Last updated on GMT

Europe risks being left behind on GM technology, says UK minister

Related tags: Gm crops, Agriculture, Genetically modified organism

Europe risks being left behind the rest of the world unless it adopts genetically modified (GM) crops, the UK environment minister Owen Paterson is expected to say this morning.

In a speech on GM, Paterson will tout the technology’s benefits for farmers, the environment and consumers, and cite figures on the widespread adoption of GM crops in other parts of the world. GM crops are now grown on an estimated 12% of global arable land.

“Farmers wouldn’t grow these crops if they didn’t benefit from doing so​,” he will say. “Governments wouldn’t licence these technologies if they didn’t recognise the economic, environmental and public benefits. Consumers wouldn’t buy these products if they didn’t think they were safe and cost effective. At the moment Europe is missing out.”

Currently, only two GM crops are approved for cultivation in Europe – Monsanto’s MON810 corn, and BASF’s Amflora potato. Several other GMO crops are not approved for cultivation but can be imported into Europe, and unintentional presence of GMOs is tolerated at a level of up to 0.9% in other crops.

“While the rest of the world is ploughing ahead and reaping the benefits of new technologies, Europe risks being left behind. We cannot afford to let that happen,”​ Paterson will say, adding that use of GM technology could be a transformative agricultural revolution.

“I recently spoke to a farmer in North Carolina who has been able to do away with all of his spraying equipment as a result of GM technology.”

Meanwhile, anti-GM groups have criticised Paterson’s enthusiasm for the technology.

Friends of the Earth’s head of policy, research and science Mike Childs said: “Despite decades of research, there are still no miracle crops to tackle the challenges agriculture faces, such as climate change, soil degradation, water shortages and growing demand.

“Where GM crops are grown, they are exacerbating the very intensive farming practices that are part of the problem. Ministers must urgently get behind a different approach to food and farming that delivers real sustainable solutions rather than peddling the snake oil that is GM.”

Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett said that GM would “make it harder to feed the world”.

“It drives out and destroys the systems that international scientists agree we need to feed the world. We need farming that helps poorer African and Asian farmers produce food, not farming that helps Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto produce profits,” ​he said.

In the EU, if a food contains GM ingredients or comes from a GM source, this must be indicated on the label. However, products like meat, milk and eggs from animals fed GM feed do not need to be labelled, and neither do products produced with GM technology – like cheese produced with GM enzymes, for example.

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7 comments

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Which planet this minister comes from?

Posted by Claudia,

GMO is good for the environment? Government wouldn't license if they didn't recognize the benefits? Which planet this minister comes from? How can a minister be so stupid? Governments are corrupts and that's why they license whatever corporations want & pay for. People don't buy GMO's in the US because they feel safe. Consumer researches have showed that people buy because they don't know what they are buying. GMO is not a technology competition it is to be avoided at all costs, for public health and environmental protection.

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Irresponsible minister

Posted by Claudia,

Good for the environment? In which planet this minister comes from? How can a minister be so stupid? People don't buy because they feel safe, if they buy it is because they are not properly informed, they won't buy if know they know it is GMO. Consumer researches have showed that. GMO is not a technology competition it is to be avoided for health and environmental security.

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GM global deceit - worse than Frankenstein

Posted by Stella,

'Europe risks being left behind...' the opening sentence of a paid government worker. Wonder how much he was paid for this sentence.
Let us face facts and admit that these Frankenstein foods cause irreversible damage to wild life, humanity, to the soil etc. etc. etc.
Promotion of GMO/GE/transgenic/genomic crop is due to total ignorance or enormous greed.
Why does the West think he is superior than the East? Why does the West think he is to feed the East? This farce has outlived its time.
No country nor individual or authority has the right to commit mass genocide whether through GM crop, chem trails, pharmaceuticals, polluted water etc.etc.
Those involved in this mass genocide will first be grieved by repercussions to their seed and loved ones, then irreversible cancers to themselves.
Stop now before it is too late.
The time is now.
Peace and not PIECES!

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