The Soil Association’s director of policy Peter Melchett has slammed environment minister Owen Paterson’s “backward-looking” and “patronising obsession with GM”.
Earlier in the day, in a speech at the Rothamsted Research Centre, the minister said it was time “to embrace the significant benefits of GM to farmers, consumers and the environment.”
Commenting that he was “conscious of the views of those who have concerns,” Paterson said that government, the GM industry and scientists had “a duty to reassure the public that GM is a safe, proven and beneficial innovation”.
Melchett, a veteran anti-GM campaigner, said the minister’s claim that the public needed reassuring was “pretty patronising”. He added: “He seems to want to ‘reassure’ a public who have been very consistently opposed to eating GM food for as long as we’ve been having this debate. And it’s not just Britons who are worried about GM, China has decided not to grow GM crops and a number of African countries – most recently Kenya – have made the same choice.
“GM crops are not cheaper, they use more pesticides in America not less, and they haven’t increased yields – so Mr Paterson has got most of his facts wrong”
“GM crops are not cheaper, they use more pesticides in America not less, and they haven’t increased yields – so Mr Paterson has got most of his facts wrong. He talks about embracing new technology but there are better ways of breeding crops now that do produce bigger yields, are resistant to drought and salinity. They are helping produce high yields in Africa right now. The minister’s obsession with GM really is backward-looking.”