It's GM time, so why is it taking so long?

Tony Combes


Sir; The FDF is right to ask "Could GM be the solution to our global food crisis?" (The Grocer, 26 April, p24). Coming the week after Kevin Hawkins agreed on your pages that sound science should replace soundbites, we now have the country's grocers and food companies, together with the majority of farmers (NFU) joining with family doctors (BMA) who agree with top scientists (Royal Society) that GM crops and food are just as safe as their conventional equivalents. To top it all, even UK shoppers are less concerned about GM foods than they are about eggs, for example.

This is some food chain turnaround from just a decade ago when Tony Blair's government refused to stand by the veracity of its own already over-zealous biotech regulations.

So what's stopping us from joining with the 12m farmers who chose the benefits of growing 282m acres of GM crops in 23 countries last year? Not the FDF, who saw the light at the end of tunnel when the retailers weren't even looking for the entrance. Why, it's the biotech companies of course.

There's no doubt why they are now in the final year of field-testing saline-resistant and drought-tolerant GM crops - but alas not in the UK. Remember what happened during the Farm Scale Trials?

So three cheers for Greenpeace, the Soil Association and those Friends of the Earth. Here is another fine example of how to attract new converts while the rest of us pay for promised environmental membership benefits.

No? Well perhaps we just have to wait another decade for the trickle-down effect.