Tuesday, 11th May 2010
Scotland could lose out as EU softens stance on GM crops
Plans being drawn up by the European Commission could see genetically modified (GM) crops grown in Europe to help feed the world’s hungry.
But the SNP Scottish Government’s dogmatic anti-GM stance could see Scotland lose out to competitors, Scottish Conservative Euro MP Struan Stevenson said.
Far from being ‘Frankenstein Foods’, as propagated by the European green lobby, GM crops represented a golden opportunity to boost food production, he said.
Speaking ahead of a seminar on GM crops in Brussels today (Tuesday, 11 May), Mr Stevenson said:
“Health & Consumer Commissioner John Dalli is proposing to table plans in June which will allow those countries which wish to grow GM crops the freedom to do so, while sanctioning the GM-free stance of others.
“This may produce a paradox for the UK where Defra may be inclined to agree to GM crops in England, while the SNP government in Scotland remains strongly opposed.
“Giving farmers the freedom to choose whether or not to grow GM crops would represent a significant breakthrough in Europe. It can only be hoped that member states will use science instead of prejudice when it comes to biotech crops.”
Mr Stevenson pointed out that every year 6.5 million children worldwide were dying of hunger and malnutrition, while population growth – mainly in the developing world – meant a 50% increase in global food production was needed by 2030 to cope with demand.
“Last year I met with a group of African farmers who told me about the huge success of agricultural bio-technology in Africa. It has transformed the income that they can earn from their crops, provided extra food for their communities and feed for their livestock.
“Disease-resistant crops have helped reduce pesticide and fungicide use on crops, while new breeds of drought resistant maize and rice are in the pipeline as well.
“More than 125 million hectares of GM crops are now being commercially grown worldwide. Even after 15 years of large commercial use, no negative effects of GMs have been substantiated.
“Against a background of a rapidly expanding world population and declining area of land available for agricultural use, the world's farmers need every tool in the toolkit to enable them to feed the hungry and our expanding world population.”
According to UNICEF, in 2007 10.9 million children under five died in developing countries. Malnutrition and hunger-related diseases caused 60 percent of the deaths. Source: State of the World’s Children report, UNICEF, 2007: http://www.unicef.org/sowc/.