UK agriculture secretary Owen Patterson aggressively advocating GM crops in Europe

Europe is making another attempt to break its longstanding logjam over the production and marketing of GM crops. But huge differences remain between the E.U. member states, with some governments, like that of Britain, bemoaning the loss of potential technology investment, while others, like France and Austria, continuing to try to block GM crops at all costs.

Owen Paterson, the member of the British administration responsible for agriculture, is pushing a science-led agenda. “As Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the U.K., I have four priorities — growing the rural economy, improving the environment and safeguarding both plant and animal health,” he said at a conference organized by EuropaBio, the body which represents the European biotech industry, earlier this year. “I firmly believe that the benefits of GM to farmers, consumers and the environment are an important part of achieving all of these objectives,” he said.

“By continuing to ignore the evidence of the safe use of GM and its benefits, there is a real risk that we will deny ourselves access to the potential offered by new plant breeding techniques and other innovative technologies. This affects not only Europe but those parts of the world where agricultural innovation is desperately needed now. Europe risks sending a message that we are anti-science and anti-innovation.”

Europe is sending mixed messages to industry and society, he said. “Without clarity, industry will not invest in Europe.”

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Read the full, original article: Seeking common ground

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