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Scotland to ban GM crops

August 9, 2015

Scotland's government says it plans to ban the cultivation of genetically modified crops. While widely grown in the Americas and Asia, there is more skepticism over the practice in Europe.

Großbritannien Schottland Landschaft mit Bauernhof an der Nordsee bei North Berwick
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Scotland's Environment Ministry announced Sunday it intended to ban the growth of genetically modified crops on its territory in order to cultivate its "clean and green brand" of products.

No GM crops are currently grown commercially in Britain, though the central government in London says it supports the use of GM crops if they are safe.

Richard Lochhead, the Scottish government's minister for the environment, food and rural affairs, said Sunday he planned to take advantage of new European Union rules allowing countries to opt out of growing EU-authorized GM crops.

A bag containing 'MON 810', a variety of genetically modified maize (corn) developed by Monsanto Company has been ripped opened by anti-GMO activists on January 23, 2012 at a Monsanto storehouse in Trebes near Carcassonne, southern France, during an action to call for the ban of this product.
GM crops, including maize, have been the subject of numerous protests in the EUImage: AFP/Getty Images

"The Scottish government will shortly submit a request that Scotland is excluded from any European consents for the cultivation of GM crops, including the variety of genetically modified maize already approved and six other GM crops that are awaiting authorization," Lochhead said in a statement.

The minister said there is no domestic market for GM crops and it wanted to strengthen its brand of exports, especially its food and drink sector worth an annual 19.78 billion euros ($21.7 billion).

"Scotland is known around the world for our beautiful natural environment - and banning growing genetically modified crops will protect and further enhance our clean, green status," Lochhead said.

Health debate

GM crops are the subject of global debate, with some environmental and health groups questioning their environmental impact. Producers, however, insist they are safe.

The Scottish government in Edinburgh has been responsible for mainly domestic policies, including agriculture, since 1999 when power was devolved from the central government in London.

jar/cmk (Reuters, AFP)