The Scottish government is planning to ban the growing of genetically modified crops in Scotland, using a new EU rule that allows countries to opt-out of GM. The move will widen the political gap between Scotland and the Conservative government in England, who have already indicated that GM crops such as oilseed rape with be grown. “Scotland is known around the world for our beautiful natural environment — and banning growing genetically modified crops will protect and further enhance our clean, green status,” said Richard Lochhead, Scotland’s environment secretary.
Lochhead said the risks to other crops and wildlife outweigh the potential benefits of cultivating GM crops. “The Scottish government has long-standing concerns about GM crops – concerns that are shared by other European countries and consumers, and which should not be dismissed lightly,” he said.
The announcement was met with approval by environmental campaigners.
“The Scottish government has been making anti-GM noises for some time, but the new Tory government has been trying to take us in the direction of GM being used in the UK,” Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, told The Guardian. “It is very good news that Scottish ministers are taking that stance.”
Representatives of the National Farmer’s Union of Scotland were not so supportive, saying an overall ban of GM crops was naive and shortsighted. Chief NFU officer Scott Walker told The Guardian, “Decisions should be taken on the individual merits of each variety, based on science and determined by whether the variety will deliver overall benefit. These crops could have a role in shaping sustainable agriculture at some point and at the same time protecting the environment which we all cherish in Scotland.”
Via The Guardian