The Scottish government’s anti-GM stance has been unequivocally re-affirmed by the country’s new environment minister, Roseanna Cunningham.
Ms Cunningham told an international conference in Switzerland that Scotland would “stand shoulder-to-shoulder” with other nations opposed to the technology and fight for what she believed the people wanted.
Any hopes that the appointment of Ms Cunningham would lead to a softening of the government’s long-standing approach on biotechnology were dashed when, referring to GM, she said “taking risks with the natural environment was wholly irresponsible and indefensible”.
Ms Cunningham told delegates at the fifth international conference of GM-free regions in Europe that when it came to GM, countries had a duty to adopt the democratic principle as well as the precautionary and preventative principles.
“When you consider our natural environment is worth around £17m a year to the Scottish economy, we simply cannot afford to take risks with untested technologies,” she said.”Consumers in Scotland, the UK, Europe and across the world are opposed to GM. It is up to their governments to listen to them and take action to keep GM at bay.
“The minister’s comments were a blow to NFU Scotland, whose president, Jim McLaren, has repeatedly called on the Scottish government to soften its stance and open up the debate on GMs. “We need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater here, and be more cautious about the language that is being used,” Mr McLaren warned.
“Our scientists should be allowed to research biotechnology and policies which could deliver real benefits. And while we accept change is now unlikely under this administration, we are continuing to meet MSPs and members of government to talk about the opportunities that exist with GM.”