Owen Paterson is set to speak out in support of genetically modified (GM) crops, and say that the UK should take the lead in an agricultural revolution in Europe, improving food safety and land use in the process.
According to the Guardian, the environment minister will tell scientists at the Rothamsted research institute that “Europe risks to be left behind”. He will add, “If we use cultivated land more efficiently, we could free up space for biodiversity, nature and wilderness.”
Rothamsted Research is conducting a trial on GM wheat, which has received the approval of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), as it “will have no adverse effect on human health or the environment”.
However, Friends of the Earth’s head of policy, research and science Mike Childs said, “There is no evidence they will deliver for farmers or food security.
“Despite decades of research, there are still no miracle crops to tackle the challenges agriculture faces, such as climate change, soil degradation, water shortages and growing demand.”
Childs added, “Where GM crops are grown, they are exacerbating the very intensive farming practices that are part of the problem.
“Ministers must urgently get behind a different approach to food and farming that delivers real sustainable solutions rather than peddling the snake oil that is GM.”
GM crops are often grown for biofuel use, because by being produced specifically for fuel pruposes, their production would not interfere with food crops.
However, controversy persists around their safety and environmental efficiency.