Scotland Nixing GM Crops

The country will opt-out of growing genetically modified foods that have been approved for cultivation in the European Union.

Aug 11, 2015
Bob Grant

WIKIMEDIA, GILLES SAN MARTINScotland is saying no to genetically modified (GM) crops. Although each member state of the European Union (EU) can grow certain approved GM crops, Scotland is requesting to be excluded from consenting to grow such crops, the country’s rural affairs secretary, Richard Lochead said in a statement released Sunday (August 9). “There is no evidence of significant demand for GM products by Scottish consumers, and I am concerned that allowing GM crops to be grown in Scotland would damage our clean and green brand, thereby gambling with the future of our £14bn [billion] food and drink sector,” he said. “Scottish food and drink is valued at home and abroad for its natural, high quality which often attracts a premium price, and I have heard directly from food and drink producers in other countries that are ditching GM because of a consumer backlash.”

While the move is being cheered by some environmental groups, many scientists and farming trade organizations are opposed to the Scottish ban on GM crops. “Other countries are embracing biotechnology where appropriate and we should be open to doing the same here in Scotland,” Scott Walker, chief executive of the National Farmers Union Scotland, told BBC News. “These crops could have a role in shaping sustainable agriculture at some point and at the same time protecting the environment which we all cherish in Scotland.” Huw Jones, a molecular geneticist at agricultural science group Rothamsted Research, told BBC News that the announcement was a “sad day for science and a sad day for Scotland.” GM crops approved by the EU were “safe for humans, animals and the environment,” he added.