Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Scotland Bans GMO Crops

By Tyler R. Etter

On August 9, 2015, Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead announced that Scotland would exercise the option to ban cultivation of GMO crops. The ban occurs by the Scottish government deciding to opt-out of European Union cultivation licenses, a power that came into effect for member nations in April.

The bans on cultivation are not restricted to a rationalization based on concern for public health or the environment. The list of reasons can include policy objectives, land use, town planning, and even ethical and socioeconomic concerns. Currently, there is only one EU approved GMO product, a corn variation. A second corn variation is expected to be approved soon, as well as five other GM products.

When speaking about the ban, Secretary Lochhead stated that “There is no evidence of significant demand for GM products by Scottish consumers…” Secretary Lochhead is concerned that GM crops would “damage our clean and green brand, thereby gambling with the future of our £14 billion food and drink sector.”

Scottish farmers are troubled by the ban, spearheaded by the National Farmers’ Union. Although they acknowledge that the corn products are not suited for Scottish agriculture, they are concerned about the possible future products that may be beneficial, such as GM potatoes that are resistant to blight. The Union is also disappointed from a science approach, stating that the cultivation ban will prevent the nation’s research centers from analyzing or potentially developing GM products useful for Scotland.

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