GM TECHNOLOGY offered significant benefits to society and the environment, yet these were being denied because of the negative image being peddled by green lobby groups and the media, Country Land and Business Association economist Alan Buckwell said.

The benefits were clear cut. GM products were rigorously tested for their safety and had been proven to deliver lower costs to farmers and cheaper food to consumers. The environment also gained from reduced herbicide and pesticide use.

This was why those countries which had licensed GM foods had seen a rapid rise in their uptake.

The final share-out of the financial benefits along the food chain was down to market economics, he added, and it was entirely right that researchers and commercial developers of GM products should also make money. “It’s not a crime to see a profit.”

But Prof Buckwell said there was a serious image problem, mainly because consumers had not been informed of the potential benefits, and were only aware of the perceived risks. It was revealing that the international limit for GM contamination of food was 0.9%, yet the threshold for stones was 2%.