Sunday, 16 March 2014

Prime Minister Inquiry (GM) crops, a new report, and field trials in the UK and some European Union calls for restrictions.

The Council for Science and Technology (CST) wants "public good" GM varieties to be grown and tested in the UK. It says GM crops should be assessed individually - like pharmaceuticals - taking potential benefits into account.

A new UK regulator similar to NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) should be set up, it says. The UK is a world leader in plant biotechnology research, but GM field trial applications have fallen from 37 in 1995 to just one in 2012.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has spoken in favour of increasing UK research into GM, which he said offers the "most wonderful opportunities to improve human health."

The CST was asked by Prime Minister David Cameron for the latest evidence on the risks and benefits of GM technologies in agriculture, and for advice on UK and EU regulation. In turn, it commissioned a group of leading plant scientists from Rothamsted Research, The Sainsbury Laboratory and Cambridge University to make recommendations to the prime minister.

The scientists say they are being held back by strict EU regulations - based on the principle that GM crops are inherently more dangerous than conventionally-bred varieties. Only two GM varieties have been licensed for commercial harvest in Europe - despite the fact that 12% of the world's arable land is cultivating GM crops.
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