17 November 1998
GM set to transform UK farming

By FWi staff

AGRICULTURE and related industries will be transformed by genetically modified (GM) crops, claim two biotechnology consultants in the Financial Times.

The experts, who work for the PA Consultancy Group, say agriculture is inefficient with poor yields at all stages from planting through to harvesting.

GM crops, by contrast, can deliver big economic benefits, claim the consultants. Herbicide-resistant crops require up to 40% less herbicide, and deliver up to 9% better crop yields by controlling weeds.

GM crops also offer what are termed “functional benefits” – increases in the quality and diversity of GM produce in terms of better appearance, enhanced texture and flavour, as well as longer storage time in the home.

The consultants foresee the advent of a range of “neutraceutical” products – food with health benefits – by 2010. These include products with qualities which induce weight loss and protection against tooth decay.

Another potential benefit is a reduction in the use of herbicide. The use of GM crops is claimed to have reduced herbicide usage in the USA by 250,000 gallons so far.

The consultants see the commercial seed business radically transformed from a “stagnating commodity business to a high-growth sector”.

But they do not appear to envisage much of a role for the farmer. Instead “a handful of life science giants will ultimately achieve international domination of agriculture and its related industries through GM crops”.

  • Financial Times 17/11/98 page 17