Grow GM, Monsanto new boy tells organic farmers

03 March 1999

Grow GM, Monsanto new boy tells organic farmers

By FWi staff

A SUPERMARKET spokesman who is leaving Safeway to work for Monsanto has suggested that organic farmers should grow genetically modified (GM) crops.

Tony Combes, head of public affairs at Safeway, said that GM crops could be a natural alternative to pesticides for organic farmers who faced weed problems.

“What could be more organic than DNA?,” he asked delegates to the conference on organic farming in Dunfermline.

“Examine what the future of GMs holds with regard to reduced chemical inputs and higher yields.”

Mr Combes, who once said there was “too much hysteria and not enough scientific fact” in the GM debate, leaves Safeway next month to work for the Monsanto.

He will become director of corporate affairs in an effort to combat the bad publicity surrounding the biotechnology company and GM crops in the UK.

Mr Combes said that organic farmers could be allowed to grow GM potatoes after 2002 when approval expires for using copper oxychloride to control blight in crops.

But the suggestion was dismissed as a slick and cynical move by Simon Brenman of the pro-organic Soil Association, the standards body for organic agriculture in the UK.

Delegates to the audience sided with the Soil Association which has a zero-tolerance policy towards GM food and crops.

A straw-poll showed that fewer than one in 10 believed organic farmers should embrace GM technology.

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