A senior government source told the Guardian:
‘GM will come back to the UK; the question is how it comes back, not whether it’s coming back.’
Although recent attempts to plant genetically modified potatoes in Cambridgeshire and Hull met with fierce protests – and some 70 per cent of the European public say they are opposed to GM food – the industry seems determined to find its niche in the UK.
‘We have absolutely every confidence that GM will be used in the UK,’ Julian Little, chairman of the Agriculture Biotechnology Council told the Guardian. ‘It’s worth remembering that there are approximately 100m hectares of GM crops being grown around the world by about 10 million farmers. There is absolutely no question at all that this is technology that is being seen to work in other countries and why on earth would you not want to be interested in the UK?’
The National Farmers Union is also putting pressure on the government to allow GM crops to be grown more widely in the UK, particularly for biofuel production.
In a letter which appears in today’s Guardian, Friends of the Earth GM Campaigner Clare Oxborrow, says that GM is no closer to solving the world’s agricultural problems than it was 10 years ago:
‘Since the introduction of GM crops, pesticide use in the US has increased after resistant weeds have emerged, Monsanto has sued farmers when their crops have been found to contain the company’s patented traits, and GM contamination of our foods is increasing,’ she writes.
‘Instead of backing this risky technology, the government should promote safe and sustainable farming methods, such as organic and locally produced food. And we should ensure that communities around the world have access to land where they can grow food, and that diversity in seeds is maintained so that crops adapted to changing local environmental conditions can continue to be developed,’ Oxborrow’s letter concludes.
This article first appeared in the Ecologist September 2007