British Environment Secretary Owen Paterson voiced his support this week for the production of genetically engineered crops in the UK, stating that there were “real environmental benefits” to the technology, BBC News reports. In an interview with Britain’s Daily Telegraph, he emphasized the potential role for ag biotech in advancing the British farming sector. Paterson also said accusations that biotech crops are unsafe are “nonsense” and “humbug.”
Secretary Paterson’s pro-biotech stance was echoed by the British government, which confirmed that it was encouraging European Commission officials to make it easier for farmers to grow GM crops. “We think this should be based on the science and we need to ensure public safety, but if we can speed up a slow [regulatory] system then we should do that,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson explained. Read more.
This month the European Commission released the results from a ten-year study that examined the environmental, health and social impacts of GMOs. The study finds that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, pose no more health or environmental risks than conventionally bred crops. In addition, the report states that we must not overlook GMOs in our efforts to address the challenges of the 21st century, including a growing population, a changing climate and limited fossil fuel resources.
The publication presents the results of 50 projects, involving more than 400 research groups and representing European Union research grants of 200M Euros (approximately $300 million). The publication builds on a report released by the commission in 2001 that studied the impacts of GMOs for fifteen years.
The European Commission writes in the foreword to the report that “biotechnology is not a purely academic exercise: its findings and developments will lead to applications and products essential to society.” You can read the full report here.
Interesting ag biotech news from around the world this week includes the promotion of biotech crops by a farmer in Italy and improvements in Asian rice that could result in significant yield increases.
An Italian farmer fights for GM crops
Italian farmer Giorgio Fidenato is determined to promote the benefits of biotech crops, going so far as to plant GM corn on his farm, despite Italy’s moratorium on genetically modified seeds that was enacted in March. “Our biggest goal is to show consumers that it is safe to eat,” he says, in an Associated Press article.
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Here are a few stories that caught our eye this week. From Arkansas to Brussels, policymakers across the globe are considering the benefits of genetically modified (GM) food, and an international consortium continues its work to improve rice crop yields. Read more below.
Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee
Court decisions curbing sale of genetically modified foods counter ’science-based regulatory decisions’
Court decisions setting back the sale of genetically modified foods do not comply with sound science, according to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). The Hill reports that the senators sent a letter to USDA Sec.Tom Vilsack last month, arguing that such court decisions may “thrust the U.S. regulatory system for agriculture biotechnology into a non-functioning regulatory system.” READ MORE »