GM revolution hints waved off

Hints by the government’s chief scientist in his speech to the Oxford Farming Conference that Britain should embrace genetically modified (GM) crops has been slammed by two leading environmental organisations.

Both Friends of the Earth and the Soil Association have downplayed comments made by Professor John Beddington yesterday (Wednesday) that the UK needs a new and “greener revolution” to improve production and efficiency from fields such as biotechnology and nanotechnology.

Friends of the Earth food campaigner Helen Rimmer said: “The dangerous obsession with GM crops must end. The most comprehensive farming report ever conducted found no conclusive evidence that GM increases yields and called for a move away from damaging industrial farming.

“The majority of GM crops are grown for animal feed – many on massive plantations that have replaced South American rainforests.”

Emma Hockridge, Soil Association policy manager, added: “GM is not going to feed a growing world population sustainably, now or in the future. We need far-reaching changes to our food and farming systems, rather than GM technology, which, despite millions in public and private research expenditure, has consistently failed to deliver food security.”

Beddington said in his speech that science and technology can help by providing practical solutions to food security and that securing this contribution requires that a high priority be attached both to research and to facilitating the real world deployment of existing and emergent technologies.