Scotland’s farmers and scientific community could be consigned to a ’technological backwater’ by the Scottish Government’s approach to genetically modified (GM) crops, NFU Scotland has said.
NFUS vice-president Rob Livesey was scathing of the Scottish Government’s approach on the subject, which he claimed had suppressed rational debate.
He said: “The current stance of Scottish Government is disappointing, as saying no to real research will inevitably lead to Scotland being left behind.
“Farmers have mixed views on the potential offered by GM, but Scottish Government’s flawed approach to decision-making has stifled proper debate and left farmers feeling ill-informed.”
He clarified he was neither for or against GM technology.
In August, cabinet secretary Richard Lochhead announced the growing of GM in Scotland would be banned. NFUS said this decision was taken without consulting the food, farming and scientific sectors.
He added: “We are being asked to produce clean, safe and healthy food, but red tape and regulation, much of it emanating from Scottish Government, already means we are operating with one arm and one leg tied behind our backs.
“We are also being challenged to keep our crops healthy when the number of plant protection products available to us is diminishing.
“Could GM and Scotland’s world-leading scientific community have helped us in our dilemma? We needed to have this discussion before, not after, Richard Lochhead took his decision.”
The claims came before Mr Livesey spoke at the British Ecological Society’s GM debate at the Royal Society of Edinburgh on Wednesday.
“I fully accept the fundamental principle we must supply what our customers and consumers want and it would be pointless to produce a product which had no market or, at best, sold at a discounted price," he said.
“However, the Scottish Government’s assumption that keeping Scotland free from GM means the value of our products will be greater in monetary terms is dangerous.”