Gm crops report timely

The front page of MTJ on 7 August rightly highlights a significant looming threat the GMOs in feed issue presents to the UK and EU livestock industry - and by definition, the whole of the downstream meat industry.

Slow and cumbersome approvals combined with zero-tolerance enforcement are simply not tenable and producer anxiety about the threat to feed costs is entirely legitimate. From a processor perspective, it's yet another threat to confidence in future production.

The GM Crops Report, following the Cabinet Office's Food Matters report by Defra and the FSA is timely, welcome and comes to some sound conclusions - i.e. they should continue to press for a streamlined approval process; argue for a re-think over tolerance for bulk traded commodities and monitoring the pace of approvals in the EU and 3rd Countries.

However, the root cause of the problem is not EU law, but the manifestation of the failure of public communication of the science behind GM in the past and the 'Frankenstein food' headlines that filled the UK and European press when GM food started to emerge as a commercial reality.

Many commentators have said more needs to be done to educate consumers but I'm not convinced this is fertile ground. We are at a point some distance behind where we were when GM first hit the headlines. Monsanto knows we are facing a communications challenge (not to even mention modification) and the worst people to educate a sceptical public are those ostensibly set to gain.

The deeply entrenched political positions will need to change in Brussels but only cold economics will soften any move here. I suspect we will almost certainly have some pain before real change because the belief that the current EU regime strongly influences the global marketing of EU approved varieties has not really been tested.