Scotland has announced a complete ban on genetically modified (GM) doods despite stiff opposition. The country’s rural affairs minister said that the ban would serve to protect the country’s recognition as a green and clean state. Farmers, however, have come out aggressively to condemn the ban saying it puts them at a competitive disadvantage to other farmers in the region.
Rural Affairs minister Richard Lochead announced in a statement that the ban would wipe out all GM foods from the country’s markets and farms. “Banning growing genetically modified crops will protect and further enhance our clean, green status. I am concerned that allowing GM crops to be grown in Scotland would damage our clean and green brand, thereby gambling with the future of our £14 billion food and drink sector” he said.
The move by Scotland’s authorities has been praised by environmentalists who have long argued against the harmful effects of GM foods to both humans and the environment. Alison Johnstone, a member of parliament for the Scottish Green party, welcomed the move saying it would curb the cultivation of GM crops that harmed Scotland’s environment.
Johnstone called upon the minister to go beyond a mere banning of the crop but also toward the compelling of retailers to label processed foods as GM.
The move, however, received widespread criticism from farmers in the country. The National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) Vice Chairperson Andrew McCornick said, “This is simply going to make us less competitive. There is going to be one side of the Border in England where they may adopt biotechnology, but just across the River Tweed farmers are not going to be allowed to. How are these farmers going to be capable of competing in the same market?”
In Britain, genetically modified crops are still legal.
The ban was takes advantage of a recent approval by the EU to allow member countries to voluntarily request exclusion from GM crops consent.
GM foods have been making headlines recently. In the U.S., major food companies are facing increasing pressure to label their GM foods. Fedele Bauccio, chief executive of Bon Appetit Management, a $1 billion in revenues food company, stated that the demand for GMO labeling was so large, one of the most frequent questions his company received was “Are you GMO-Free?”
A poll by the Mellan Group indicated that an overwhelming 92 per cent of U.S. citizens supported the labeling of GM foods. In reaction to the desire for GMO free foods, fast food chain Chipotle declared they would ban GM ingredients in their foods. Whole Foods, Applegate and Clif Bar are also some of the companies that have come out to oppose the use of GM foods.
As concern for human health and the environment drives more people away from the genetic modification, U.S. congress recently passed the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act that prohibits states from labeling GM foods or regulating GM foods in any way. Consumers will have to wait longer for a law compelling the labeling of GM foods from corporations that are proving to be less concerned about the environment and more concerned with making profits.