Brown uses EU talks to push for GM crops

Environmental campaigners are concerned about GM crops
Environmental campaigners are concerned about GM crops

Gordon Brown will push for the EU to back down on its resistance to GM crops at a summit of leaders in Brussels today.

Among the prime minister's six-point plan for driving down food prices is a proposal to "improve" the regulatory regime for GM organisms.

Mr Brown is not the only member of government said to be warming to the idea of GM crops in the face of global food riots.

Environment minister Phil Woolas held talks with the Agricultural Biotechnology Council last night, a group which encourages the use of biotechnology in agriculture and spearheaded by controversial company Monsanto, one of the main GM businesses.

Any move to allow GM crops into Britain would provoke the ire of environmental groups, who retain a deep-seated suspicion of genetic modification.

They contend there is no evidence to show GM crops increase average yields. They point to last week's UN international agriculture assessment - which the UK government signed up - that saw no clear role for GM crops in tackling global food needs.

Friends of the Earth's GM Campaigner, Clare Oxborrow said: "Instead of helping the GM industry to use the food crisis for financial gain, the Government should be encouraging a radical shift towards sustainable farming systems that genuinely benefit local farmers, communities and the environment worldwide."

Since 2004 the government has only allowed the commercial production of GM crops on a case-by-case basis.

The EU's moratorium on new licenses has come under severe pressure from Washington, which is keen on the use of agricultural biotechnology.


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