EU attacked after GM rule relaxation hits deadlock

FARM experts have criticised the EU after ministers failed to agree to let individual countries decide whether to allow genetically modified (GM) crops.

EU Environment Ministers met in Brussels last week to debate a Danish-led proposal to allow Member States to ban or allow GM cultivation.

The proposal hoped to break the deadlock which has lingered over the issue for several years.

But 10 Member States including Britain, France, Spain and Germany refused to support the Danish proposals.

NFU chief science adviser Dr Andrea Graham said: “It is very disappointing that there is still no change in the deadlock over GM issues in the EU.

“The Danish proposal had merits and was welcome in that it brought everyone to the table in a bid to try break the current impasse and many countries have shown a willingness to work together on further negotiations. 

“However, in its current format, it posed just too many concerns such as the risk of undermining the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) EFSA scientific assessment by the introduction of additional socio-economic grounds.”

It follows announcements this week that British scientists are making headway in using biotechnology to produce food with health benefits.

Speaking to journalists in London this week, Professor Johnathan Napier, said he and his team at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, were working to produce a sustainable source of fish oil from plant seeds. He said there was a ‘string of evidence’ to show fish oils helped to reduce cardio vascular disease.

Director at the John Innes Centre, Prof Dale Sanders, said his researchers were using GM to produce cereals fortified with zinc to combat spiralling deficiencies in the mineral.

He said using ‘natural ways of doing it’ would put the process back by a decade. He called using GM a ‘quick win’.

Readers' comments (4)

  • The EU is increasingly demonstrating the way not to do things, paralysing progress and decision making.

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  • Can't help thinking that, as its been over 15 years since GM crops were first proposed for the UK, that Prof Dale is wrong and that the 'quick win' option is the 'natural ways of doing it' option.
    Its time for people like Prof Dale to stop playing politics with GM and deliver the benefits of research that we farmers are paying for in a form that we farmers can use and sell.

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  • "Biofortification" is being pushed by GM research organisations as a ‘back door entry’ of acceptance by the British public than pesticide and herbicide tolerant GM crops. I’m reasonably confident that farmers can see through the reductionist mentality that lies behind the industry, and it is just one of the reasons why GM technology is so unacceptable. Obesity and other diet related health problems will not be solved without major changes to our attitudes to nutrition and the food system as anyone who has thought about the problem realises. The use of GM crops is also not the economic goldmine that it purports to be, inflated seed costs and dependency on expensive pesticides will not aid British farmers.

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  • As I understand it there are plenty of ways of "fortifying" food with vitamins, minerals and the like without having to resort to GM. The breakfast-cereal industry has been doing it for decades.

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