Sensible debate needed on GM

The debate surrounding the use of GM crops is set to be reignited after a former government minister called on the UK to rethink its approach to genetic modification.

Ahead of his speech to the British Science Association festival this week, Lord Sainsbury said it would be foolish to ignore GM products, which are vital for a growing global population. He added that proper scientific evidence was needed.

Lord Sainsbury, who served in Tony Blair’s Department for Trade and Industry from 1998 to 2006, told the BBC: “It is 12 years since we had that last very fraught and, I think, not very productive debate about it.

“Twelve years on, we have got 30 million acres across the world of GM crops, we have got pretty much all the cotton industry in India and China on those kinds of crops and of course people are now beginning to think seriously about what is the major problem we face in the world, which is how we feed 9 billion people in 2050.

“We need now to have the debate again because in the last debate there was not proper scientific evidence put on the table. I think to rule out GM, which is this major new biotechnology, would be very foolish,” he added.