A fresh row over GM crops has broken out after the new environment secretary publicly backed the controversial technology.

Caroline Spelman, the Tory MP that replaced Hilary Benn at the helm of Defra last month, said GM could “bring benefits in food to the marketplace”.

"There are benefits to developing countries, like drought resistance or resistance to high salt content in water,” she said. “The principle of GM technology is [acceptable] if used well. The technology can be beneficial."

But critics have raised concerns over her longstanding links to the agriculture industry through the lobbying firm she co-founded with her husband, Spelman Cormack & Associates, which helped support ongoing GM trials.

The validity of a proposed government review of the technology has now been called into question by anti-GM campaigners.

“The consultation exercise has lost all credibility,” Pete Riley of GM Freeze told the Daily Mail. “It is clear the Food Standards Agency should not be allowed anywhere near it, as they clearly have a pro-GM agenda.”

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