US calls for an end to the EU block on GM and nanotechnology

| 7th December 2010
Field of wheat

Opposition within the European Union has so far prevented the widespread adoption of GM crops

US officials say they remain ‘surprised and disappointed’ over Europe’s refusal to embrace technologies like genetic modification (GM) and nanotechnology in farming

European agriculture is being left behind because of its opposition to GM crops and nanotechnology, US officials have warned.

Speaking to the House of Lords Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Farming, officials from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said both technologies needed to be accepted by EU consumers to allow for ‘more sustainable agriculture’ in the future.

‘I’m a little surprised and disappointed that agriculture, which began so strong in Europe hasn’t taken a greater leap forward to being a part of the economy that might be if these new technologies and approaches were carried forward,’ said USDA chief scientist Dr Roger Beachy.

He said scientists had to find ways to make new technologies like GM sound ‘non-threatening’ to consumers.

Many European countries have opposed the introduction of GM crops with a recent Greenpeace and Avaaz petition calling for a ban gaining more than one million signatures of support. MEPs voted in July to ban meat and dairy products from cloned animals and a introduce a moratorium on foods using nanotechnology until potential health risks can be ruled out.

However, committee member Baroness Howarth of Breckland spoke out in support of the US line and said the EU had ‘failed to look at the research objectively’ on GM and had been ‘driven by particular lobbying groups’.

‘I think that is likely to happen with other new technologies unless scientists find ways of presenting the information differently and engaging consumers on a different level,’ she said.

Add to StumbleUpon
EU votes against compulsory GM food labelling
Campaigners angry at EU's decision to keep consumers 'in the dark' over food from animals given genetically modified (GM) feed
EU's 'dangerous' move to nationalise GM decision-making
Individual countries will be allowed to ban GM crops in a move the EU hopes will stop them blocking new crops being grown by farmers in other member states
EU approves 'stepping stone' legislation for cloned meat
European Union ministers have given an initial thumbs-up to the Novel Foods Regulation, a draft proposal that could lead to meat from cloned animals entering the human food chain
Industry and activists clash over environmental footprint of nanotechnology
Conflict grows between green campaigners and the nanotechnology sector following publication of a critical Friends of the Earth report into the industry's environmental impacts
Lab grown meat: a low-fat, low-carbon, cruelty-free future?
The technology isn't fully developed yet, but when meat really can be grown in a lab it's going to turn all our arguments about carnivorous diets on their heads...

More from this author


The Ecologist has a formidable reputation built on fifty years of investigative journalism and compelling commentary from writers across the world. Now, as we face the compound crises of climate breakdown, biodiversity collapse and social injustice, the need for rigorous, trusted and ethical journalism has never been greater. This is the moment to consolidate, connect and rise to meet the challenges of our changing world. The Ecologist is owned and published by the Resurgence Trust. Support The Resurgence Trust from as little as £1. Thank you. Donate now.