Paterson's GM comments attacked by organic lobby
DEFRA Secretary Owen Paterson has come under fire for comments he made about genetically modified (GM) crops.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Paterson dismissed critics of the technology as ‘humbugs’ and said the case for GM food now needed to be made ‘emphatically’.
He added: “Emphatically we should be looking at GM … I’m very clear it would be a good thing. The trouble is all this stuff about Frankenstein foods and putting poisons in foods. There are real benefits, and what you’ve got to do is sell the real environmental benefits.”
But the comments have drawn a strong response from the organic lobby in particular.
Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association, said: “Owen Patterson is wrong to claim that GM crops are good for the environment. The UK Government’s own farm scale experiment showed that overall the GM crops were worse for British wildlife.
“US Government figures show that overall pesticide use has increased since GM crops have been grown there, because as scientists opposed to GM predicted, superweeds and resistant insects have multiplied.
“The recent British Science Association survey showed public concern has not changed, and the number of people saying that GM food should be encouraged dropped from 46 per cent in 2002 to 27 per cent in 2012.
“Owen Patterson says that people are eating meat from animals fed of GM feed without realising it. That is because the British Government has consistently opposed moves to label to give consumers accurate information, and he should put that right by immediately introducing compulsory labelling of meat and milk from animals fed on GM feed.”
Friends of the Earth’s senior food and farming campaigner Clare Oxborrow said: “Owen Paterson’s claims that we need GM crops simply don’t stack up. The industrial farming system, which GM aggravates, has been instrumental in causing the global food crisis we currently face.
“A fresh approach to agriculture is urgently needed to serve up sustainable diets globally, including reduced meat-consumption in wealthy nations and an end to food crops being used for biofuels.”