The Scottish Government’s approach to GM risks is consigning the nation’s farmers and scientific community to a “technological backwater” says NFU Scotland’s vice president, Rob Livesey.
Speaking ahead of addressing the British Ecological Society GM Debate in Edinburgh today, he said that, while the union was neither for nor against the use of GM technology, it believed the Scottish Government’s decision-making process had stifled any rational debate on the subject.
“The current stance of Scottish Government is disappointing as saying no to real research will inevitably lead to Scotland being left behind,” said Mr Livesey (pictured above). “Farmers have mixed views on the potential offered by GMs but Scottish Government’s flawed approach to decision-making has stifled proper debate and left farmers feeling ill-informed.
“We are being asked to produce clean, safe and healthy food but red tape and regulation, much of it emanating from Scottish Government, already means we are operating with one arm and one leg tied behind our backs. We are also being challenged to keep our crops healthy when the number of plant protection products available to us is diminishing.
“Could GM and Scotland’s world-leading scientific community have helped us in our dilemma? We needed to have that discussion before, not after, cabinet secretary Richard Lochhead took his decision.”
That last remark was a reference to the decision, taken by Mr Lochhead in August this year, that the growing of GM crops in Scotland was to be banned.
“I fully accept the fundamental principle that we must supply what our customers and consumers want and that it would be pointless to produce a product which had no market or, at best, sold at a discounted price,” said Mr Livesey. “However, the Scottish Government’s assumption that keeping Scotland free from GM means that the value of our products will be greater in monetary terms is dangerous.
“Scotland’s farmers are more environmentally aware today than ever, but credit for this is rarely recognised by wider society and, even more rarely, do we gain a price premium because if it.
“For Scottish Government to also suggest there is a green premium in the marketplace for the bulk of the food that Scotland produces indicates it is living in dreamland.”