Defra minister Owen Paterson claimed there were real environmental benefits to embracing the technology and was reported as dismissing concerns over the impacts on human health as “complete nonsense”.
His comments to the Daily Telegraph newspaper have sparked speculation that the UK government is preparing to relax control on the GM issue, opening increasing opportunities for GM-based animal feed.
He told the paper: “There’s about 160m hectares of GM being grown around the world. There isn’t a single piece of meat being served [in a typical London restaurant] where a bullock hasn’t eaten some GM feed.”
The report has caused anger among environmental campaigners. Friends of the Earth’s senior food and farming campaigner Clare Oxborrow said: “Owen Paterson’s claims that we need GM crops simply don’t stack up; the industrial farming system, which GM aggravates, has been instrumental in causing the global food crisis we currently face.
“The government should focus on funding cheaper, simpler and safer agricultural solutions that can deliver real benefits for consumers, farmers and the environment, rather than gambling on GM.
“A fresh approach to agriculture is urgently needed to serve up sustainable diets globally, including reduced meat consumption in wealthy nations and an end to food crops being used for biofuels.”