Genetic modification (GM) should be re-branded as ‘ethical crop breeding’ with the patented technology used for ‘the greater good’ rather than to feed the profits of multinational corporates.
That was according to outgoing NFU Scotland president Nigel Miller.
The issue of GM came up during a Question Time-style debate at the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS) conference.
Mr Miller said the moniker GM was one of the biggest issues.
“The Scottish Government will never go there,” he said. “What we need to talk about is ethical crop breeding.”
Mr Miller also suggested research institutes should hold the patented technology rights; many opposition groups fear the control big biotech companies have over farmers and markets.
Others on the panel, including SAOS director David Mitchell, also supported ‘re-branding’ the technology.
The need to use GM was ‘unquestionable’, Mr Mitchell said, citing the benefits for potato growers in particular.
However, James Withers, of Scotland Food and Drink, was not convinced. He admitted to having ‘changed my mind’ over the controversial science. He said GM would have a ‘critical role’ for commodity crops but that was not the market Scotland should be playing in.
He said: “In Scotland, let’s forget about producing commodities. Let’s go for added value. Going against the grain [by not using GM for example] could help us carve out a niche.”
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