UK pushes EU to embrace GM

Britain is pushing the European Union to relax restrictions on genetically modified crops as growing scientific evidence shows they’re safe.

The move comes as 61 per cent of UK farmers now say they would like to grow GM crops after a disastrous 12-month cycle of poor weather that is expected significantly to reduce harvest yields. Senior government officials said that ministers are increasingly concerned that the potential moral and ethical benefits of GM are being ignored by costly and bureaucratic licensing regulations.

With one-twelfth of global arable land under GM cultivation they have privately warned that Britain faces being left behind in an important technology that has the potential to improve crop yields, help the UK’s agricultural industry and provide benefits to human health through vitamin fortification.

Government sources added that GM also had applications beyond food including the potential to combat diseases such as ash dieback and in developing new medicines.

“The point about GM is not simply about food production,” they said. “There are wider potential environmental and economic benefits to the technology both in the UK and internationally.

“What we want to do is start a dialogue within Europe on GM based upon the science.” . .

Genetically modified crops are widely used in many countries and none of the fears raised by the anti-science, anti-business opponents to their use have been realised.

On top of the advocated benefits of improving yields and cutting down on costs such as pesticides, the increasingly extreme weather has concentrated farmers’ minds on the need to guard against climate change.

“The weather has definitely had an impact,” said Martin Haworth, director of policy at the National Farmers Union. “Farmers are becoming more and more aware that climate change doesn’t mean a gradual rise in temperatures but rather a stream of extreme weather events. GM technology is one possible way of mitigating this.

“Last summer was disastrous for potatoes, for example. The potential for growing potatoes resistant to blight has had an impact on some farmers’ attitudes,” he said, adding that farmers were “very frustrated” at not being able to grow GM crops. . .

This will be tricky for the antis.

They’ll be pleased that farmers are acknowledging the impacts of climate change.

But they can’t insist we accept the science on that if they’re not willing to accept the science on genetic modification.

14 Responses to UK pushes EU to embrace GM

  1. Dave Kennedy says:

    There are some real concerns about the safety of GM foods:
    However, it is the companies that produce them are the cause of most concerns. Monsanto uses their monopoly of GM seed to increase profits at the expense of many poor farmers and 3rd world economies. Supporting GM actually means giving Monsanto an even more power over food production.


  2. farmerbabyboomer says:

    ‘This will will be tricky for the antis’
    To be frank I think AGW and GM are both junk science.

    Below is some reading from the informative website of GM-Free Cymru the community group campaigning to keep Wales free of genetcally-modafied crops


  3. robertguyton says:

    ” a disastrous 12-month cycle of poor weather”
    I see.
    Here in New Zealand, those who are anti-environment are claiming that the wide-spread drought (I see) we experienced here means we must create storage for water. Same thinking shallow, short-term, reactive thinking. Here, farmers will be able to lever public money for their own benefit (isn’t that called a subsidy?) In the UK, the Monsanto-clone companies will be able to prolific enormously by cornering the seed market (plus massively boost their herbicide sales). If Ele and her mates can push the GMO thing hard enough, the same thing will happen here. I thought farmers were fiercely independent people who don’t want to be reliant on corporations and subsidies in order to farm?
    What’s happening?


  4. murray grimwood says:

    Actually, HP’s comment shows how tangled you get when you start with a preconception, then try to justify it.

    The pragmatic approach to both issues, is the precautionary one. Both have potential ramifications which far outweigh short-term gains. If either turn out to be false alarms, or their downsides turn out to be containable/addressable/mitigatable, then you can go right ahead; burn the oil, coal, modify everything in sight.

    And for the record, I’m not impressed by farmers “acknowledging the effects of climate change”, they’re still dodging their responsibilities. Time they showed come collective maturity (Not I, Said the Little Red Hen is a kids book) in that regard. Turning to GM while failing to alter your causal actions, is – as politely as I can put it – dumb.


  5. Mr E says:

    Dodging? How dodging. What are their responsibilities?
    Mr E


  6. robertguyton says:

    Sustainable food production while at the same time improving the environment. I say improving, because most farm environments are a pale shadow of what the land could be, and was pre-agriculture. It’s the responsibility of the land-owner to climb up out of the hole we have made for ourselves. Plus, land-owners have a responsibility not to degrade the atmosphere and add to climate instability.
    This might be what Murray is referring to, Mr E 🙂
    Coming to the Rule 11 & 13 hearings?


  7. Mr E says:

    Pale shadow of what land could be? What is this O’Great tower of environment you describe? Does it feed and clothe the masses?
    Sure farms are emitting so called green house gases. Although it has been well proven that most NZ farms emit well below their European counter parts. Our so called carbon footprint is relatively low. How could they improve whilst increasing production? I take it you are not going to suggest GE? I take it you want to see increased production? Or do we somehow get more from less? Or do you prefer less from less?

    Should I come to hearings? My interpretation from media items is they are predetermined and pointless. I almost feel sorry for councillors stuck on their ‘chuffs’.

    What is rule 11? Why don’t they name them? Numbers help chronology but not description. I confess to be stuck on the so called rule number 1. Never trust a politician. Or is that rule number 5? See my problem with numbers?


  8. jabba says:

    Mr E .. bOb hates farmers .. the very people who are keeping our heads above the water .. let bOb go, he isn’t worth the agro


  9. Mr E says:

    Scathing assessment there.
    But no need to warn me. And I am not agro.
    I don’t get a lot of satisfaction commenting on blogs however I don’t often get upset by people’s views as naive as some maybe.


  10. robertguyton says:

    “Our so called carbon footprint is relatively low.”
    Per capita, it’s very high.
    Increased production? Production is already pretty impressive, according to industry spokespeople. I’d like to see increased biodiversity, that’s a sound objective, given that the opposite, decreased biodiversity, is a dangerous state to seek. You must see that, Mr E. Super-specializing, which is what we are doing with our farming systems now, especially with the rise and rise of dairying, increases dramatically the risks that putting all ones eggs in one basket brings. It’s an old adage, the eggs/basket one, Mr E and worth bearing in mind. In place of a teaming diversity of flora and fauna, we have pasture grass and cattle beasts. We have created a very vulnerable eco-system, over-specialized and with almost no buffer against adverse conditions. Drought springs to mind. In a broad sense, humans are wise to maintain a wide base of organisms around them, rather than specializing in those things that make them money, if only for the sake of resilience under difficult circumstances. Already, we New Zealanders have created a landscape that is largely denuded of diversity. Our present trajectory is worsening that situation. I believe farmers, occupiers of vast tracts of land, have a responsibility to address this situation. I also believe townspeople have a responsibility to do the same thing on whatever tiny patch of land they occupy. City dwellers too, where possible. All humans, in fact, would be wise to consider the effect they have on the wider world and could/should do something about the de-natured state we have created.
    Mr E, you say you don’t get a lot of satisfaction commenting on blogs. Perhaps I could give you some advice on the matter, as I am someone who does. You too, Jabba. You’re forever belly-aching. Blogging is an enjoyable pass-time, done right.


  11. Mr E says:

    Gidday Robert,
    When I read some of your comments I think – sweeping statements but no specifics. You need to be more specific if I am going to be interested in your ideas.
    An increase of dairying in Southland increased diversification. We have changed from a region dominated by sheep and beef to one sharing a Dairy role. Many sheep and beef farmers now benefit from the dairy industry with the opportunity to graze livestock and sell feed. So I am guessing you have welcomed dairying in Southland?
    With the improvement in diversification? Spread the risk and all that? And what was it- Agriculture increased its share of the Southland economy by 86% between 2007-2010. WOW. Go Southland. Go Dairy.

    Dairying has actually increased the regions resilience to drought. Irrigation has been afforded by some in the drier areas. Sheep farms have not been able to afford such buffering opportunities. Dairying affords to buy feed from out of the region. Again I would imagine you are welcoming Dairying because of this. I can imagine your next protest sign… “Lets go Dairy, Lets go”

    Biodiversity. I see heaps of delivery of biodiversity. I see farmers investing in trees and I guess they often sow mixed pasture swards, with your favoured plantain and the likes.
    I do think that some farmers have removed trees to convert to dairy (often once sheep farmers who planted them, so this is not done lightly). But this is a short term issue. Shelter belts often don’t fit with fencing and lane requirements so these are removed and then replanted. Some don’t replant but these are the minority in my opinion.

    You propose more robust systems, but don’t state specifics. Can you provide them?. And please don’t refer to some Berl report that lacks detail, quantification and in my view common sense.

    Mr E


  12. robertguyton says:

    Mr E, a natural, un-interfered-with forest system is more robust than a pastoral system. It’s a matter of numbers and variety. Cows and ryegrass doesn’t rate compared with the multitudes that consist a forest.


  13. Mr E says:

    Sure – I agree with that statement. Surely you are not suggesting we return our farms to native forests? Where is the production in that? Have you asked DOC how much profit they make from the 6.5 millions of hectares?
    Still no specific suggestions. Am I surprised? No.


  14. robertguyton says:

    No, I’m not suggesting that, did you think I was?
    The forest is an exemplar for biodiversity and resilience – wasn’t that what we were discussing? If conventional farming was to align itself more closely to the exemplar, biodiversity and all the security that brings would improve. Monocultural practices are risky and the opposite of resilient. It’s important, in the long term, to adopt resilient practices.
    I’m sure you would agree, MrE.
    As for your seeing heaps of delivery of biodiversity, I can only assume that you understand the term differently than I do. Relatively speaking, dairy farms are green deserts.


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