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David Cameron: ‘It is time to look again at GM food’

CAMERON_2585116bBy Christopher Hope

The Prime Minister said he wanted to foster a “pro-science culture” in the UK, and this started with a shift in Britain’s attitude towards so-called GM food, dubbed “Frankenstein food” by its critics.

The comments come ahead of a major speech by Environment secretary Owen Paterson on Thursday next week which is set to signal a change in GM policy.

Advocates argue that GM techniques increase crop yields, avoid the need for pesticides, and could be essential in assuring Britain’s future food security.

The Government is reported to be ready to call for European Union restrictions on cultivation of the crops for human consumption to be relaxed.

The Coalition has allowed small-scale cultivation trials for GM food but widespread use is effectively banned.

Speaking to entrepreneurs and businessmen at a pre-G8 event in east London, Mr Cameron said: “In the terms of the openness to innovation I would argue that we need to ensure a pro-science culture.

“I think there are a number of subjects there that we need to take on, I think it is time to look again at the whole issue for GM food. We need to be open to arguments from science.”

The comments after Mr Paterson said earlier this year that the Government wanted “to promote the benefits of genetically modified crops as part of the drive to modernise farming in the UK”.

In a speech to the Oxford Farming Conference he said farmers, policy makers and scientists had a duty to turn around the image of GM.

He said: “We should not be afraid of making the case to the public about the potential benefits of GM beyond the food chain, for example, reducing the use of pesticides and inputs such as diesel.

“I believe that GM offers great opportunities but I also recognise that we owe a duty to the public to reassure them that it is a safe and beneficial innovation.”

Mr Paterson’s department has been working across Government to develop new technologies to boost agricultural production.

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