“Balanced discussion” needed on GM food
MEP calls for science based debate on GMOs
A scientific debate is needed on GM crops, a Scottish MEP has claimed.
This month the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, scrapped the post of Chief Scientific Advisor, which had been held by Scotland’s Professor Anne Glover.
His decision came after a campaign over several months by groups across Europe who said the post had too much influence and in particular, they criticised Glover’s position on opposition to genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), which previously, she had called “a form of madness”.
Scottish Conservative MEP Ian Duncan, a member of the parliament’s ENVI committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, said the debate over GMOs should be based on “a sound understanding” of the science.
He said: “When you speak to somebody on the street or in the supermarket about GMOs, a lot of them will start using the language used in some parts of the media like ‘Frankenstein foods’, but I think you need to hear the other side.
“At the moment, we have a very chemical heavy, chemical dependent farming sector using fertilisers and pesticides. GM works and works well as a way of reducing the chemistry, reducing the amount of chemicals that are being used.”
He added: “GMOs are a very political topic and much of the debate is ‘we don’t care about the science, this is politics’.
“As a scientist, I do care about the science. I’m talking to farmers who are talking about various restrictions on the use of pesticides and are saying if they could use GM crops they wouldn’t have to use those pesticides.”
The European Parliament has voted to allow individual countries to ban GMOs, even if they are approved by the European Union.
Earlier this year, Rob Gibson, chairman of the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, said GM crops were “of doubtful scientific benefit.”
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