Scotland GM food ban enforced to keep ‘clean and green brand’

10 Aug 2015

A recent European Union (EU) ruling has allowed the Scottish government to issue a national ban on the production of genetically modified (GM) crops as it would damage their “clean and green brand”.

The Scotland GM food ban was encouraged by the EU’s recent ruling that allows nations within the EU to decide their own fate when it comes to the use of GM crops but, despite this being seen as a means of increasing the amount of GM crops produced, Scotland has gone in the opposite direction.

In a statement last night, the ruling Scottish government announced its intentions to divert from Westminster’s GM crops policy.

Aside from GM maize, six other unnamed GM crops will also be banned outright by the Scottish government as part of what it sees as an effort to protect the Scottish environment.

In the statement, Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “There is no evidence of significant demand for GM products by Scottish consumers and I am concerned that allowing GM crops to be grown in Scotland would damage our clean and green brand, thereby gambling with the future of our £14bn food and drink sector.”

The news comes not long after GM crop fears returned to the media with reports that ‘supercharged’ GM crops could cause an environmental disaster due to mismanagement or even be used as a biochemical weapon.

A ‘sad day’ for Scotland

However, the National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFU) has criticised the government’s decision to ban GM crops and said it is a step in the wrong direction as well as one that dismisses established biotech advances.

“Other countries are embracing biotechnology where appropriate and we should be open to doing the same here in Scotland,” the union’s chief executive, Scott Walker, said.

“Decisions should be taken on the individual merits of each variety [of crop], based on science and determined by whether the variety will deliver overall benefit.”

Equally critical of the decision was Huw Jones, professor of molecular genetics at Rothamsted Research, who has described it as a “sad day” for Scotland.

“GM crops approved by the EU are safe for humans, animals and the environment and it’s a shame the Scottish parliament thinks cultivation would harm their food and drink sector,” Jones said.

Maize field image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic