16 November 2000
Green guru slams GM trashing

By John Burns

ENVIRONMENTAL campaigner Jonathon Porritt has spoken out against the “trashing” of GM crop trials sown to see whether they damage the countryside.

Mr Porritt, who is a patron of the Soil Association and former chairman of Friends of the Earth, said he was reserving judgement on GM crops.

“I personally do not think its very sensible to go into fields and trash crops. I feel we need to do proper evidence-based research to give us more information.”

Despite widespread public opposition to GM crops, the remarks are significant because Mr Porritt advises the Prime Minister on environmental issues.

Nothing is inherently wicked, or immoral or unsustainable about genetic engineering, he said because in the future “maybe it will produce some benefits”.

Mr Porritt said that the first generation of GM crops was of questionable usefulness to either consumers, farmers or the environment.

But biotechnology may eventually prove more beneficial than risky, he told a Country Landowners Association conference on Wednesday (15 November).

“With the second generation of GM crops we are beginning to see there may be some real benefits, even if there are some risks,” he added.

Mr Porritt said he wanted to avoid the absolutism of saying there should never ever be any GM crops grown on any ground anywhere in the world.

It would not be responsible to say GM crops should never be engaged in under any circumstances, he concluded.