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Minister’s Support for GM Jeopardises UK’s Food Production

Owen Patterson’s misguided and unreserved endorsement of GM crops in the UK has jeopardised DEFRA’s non-GM food policy when it needs to be seen as even-handed and impartial.

This is the warning of Ian Proctor, managing director of Hi Peak Organic Feeds, who says the Minister seems to be acting as judge and jury with consumers and the agricultural industry not getting a fair hearing.

“Mr Patterson’s unequivocal support for GM crops risks alienating the organic sector as well as many reputable environmentalists who have a serious contribution to make to the GM debate. It also flies-in-the-face of public opinion and science,” says Mr Proctor.

“Mr Patterson acknowledged that consumers were ‘unwittingly’ eating GM food. This does not justify his pro-GM stance at all: it simply makes a compelling case for GM-labelling. Nor can he claim his comments are in line with the electorate, given that a British Science Association survey in 2012 found that only 27% of consumers felt that GM food should be encouraged.

“Further, far from solving the problem of high pesticide input, evidence from the US shows that GM-technologies simply give rise to new weeds and insects which are harder to control. The result is yet more pesticide and herbicide application, worsening the very problem that GM crops were supposed to solve.

“With battery cages and many aspects of factory farming now discredited in the UK, the mood is towards food production more in harmony with nature and not towards the hidden menace of GM. The long-term implications of GM food to human health coupled with the possible disruptions to the World’s ecosystems, means it is a step into the unknown,” added Mr Proctor.

Hi Peak Organic Feeds is currently promoting a campaign to get organic food on the menu of publically funded organisations to emphasise the importance of healthy food, animal welfare and a safe environment. Mr Proctor pointed out that certified organic food was now the only non-GM guarantee for consumers buying food.

December 11, 2012