Farmers react to government GM crops ban

Image taken by Curtis Welsh as the sun was setting at Longnewton Mill Farm near Lilliesleaf, where farmer Peter Wilson was cutting winter barley and about to unload into a trailer after rounding a lonesome tree
Image taken by Curtis Welsh as the sun was setting at Longnewton Mill Farm near Lilliesleaf, where farmer Peter Wilson was cutting winter barley and about to unload into a trailer after rounding a lonesome tree

The Tweed will become an agricultural border this autumn, after the Scottish Government moved to restrict use if genetically modified crops.

Rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead this week signalled that Scotland would make use of an ‘opt out’ option in European legislature on GM foods, which would still be used south of the border.

Environmental campaigners welcomed the move. Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “If you are a whisky producer or breeding high quality beef, you ought to be worried if you don’t want GM, but it is going to come to a field near you and you were worried that there was going to be some contamination.

“It is certainly in Scotland’s interests to keep GM out of Scotland.”

Scott Walker, NFU Scotland Chief Executive commented: “We are disappointed that the Scottish Government has decided that no GM crops should ever be grown in Scotland. Other countries are embracing biotechnology where appropriate and we should be open to doing the same here in Scotland.

“Decisions should be taken on the individual merits of each variety, based on science and determined by whether the variety will deliver overall benefit. These crops could have a role in shaping sustainable agriculture at some point and at the same time protecting the environment which we all cherish in Scotland.

“What we want is an open debate that then allows decisions to be taken from an informed position reflecting current technology.”

Radio Borders’ farming expert Doug Niven pointed out merely saying ‘no’ to GM crops would not necessarily ensure a clean, green Scotland.

“These GM crops have been around for many years,” he said, “and in many cases they have been developed to withstand conditions and diseases that would otherwise ruin them.

“Without GM you’re looking at using a lot more chemicals on your crops.”