SCOTLAND HAS moved to ban genetically modified (GM) crops citing “no evidence of significant demand” for them among consumers.
Environment secretary Richard Lochhead said he will use new laws that permit member states from opting out of commercial cultivation even if the crops have been approved at EU level.
Farmers said the announcement was short-sighted. “What we want is an open debate that then allows decisions to be taken from an informed position reflecting current technology,” said NFU Scotland chief executive Scott Walker.
Whether consumers want GM food or not is far from clear. IGD research last year showed 57% of shoppers had concerns over the safety of the foods, up from 49% in 2008. Strong opposition has, however, fallen – from 17% to 14% over the same period.
The impact the new EU regulations will have is also in dispute – both sides of the fence suggest they will lose out. The biotechnology industry sees the change as an opportunity for countries to flout scientific evidence that the crops are safe; meanwhile anti-GM campaigners suggest it will open the floodgates.
Though Wales is expected to take a similar stance to Scotland, the UK government remains a supporter of GM technology.