Sir: The Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC) welcomes environment secretary Owen Paterson’s speech at the Oxford Farming Conference, as reported on your website (‘Don’t be afraid to make case for GM, Paterson tells farmers’,, 3 January).

UK research into agricultural technologies is addressing the challenge of feeding a growing global population. GM crops are already delivering higher yields in 29 countries, but UK scientists, farmers and businesses throughout the food chain are missing out on the benefits of agricultural innovation.

UK consumers have, until very recently, been denied a rational, fact-based public discussion on the role of GM and other agricultural technologies in the food chain. Giving consumers greater confidence in the science and safety of agricultural technologies will allow them to make an informed decision on the future role for such innovations in the UK.

These comments from the environment secretary are a welcome reinforcement of the need to involve consumers in the global food security challenge.

ABC will continue to support the UK government and the growing coalition of organisations that recognise the need for a sensible, fact-based approach to the use of GM and other agricultural technologies across Europe.

Dr Julian Little, chair, Agricultural Biotechnology Council