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The 'Luddite' Prince and a GM Catastrophe
Editorial, Daily Mail, 14 August 2008


How eagerly the cheerleaders for GM farming queue to attack Prince Charles for daring to warn that the reckless development of modified crops is heading for an 'environmental disaster'.

Labour politicians denounce him as a Luddite.

He's an ignoramus, sneers a Lib Dem MP.

A crop researcher accuses him of ignoring the plight of the world's poor.

News bulletins from the supposedly impartial BBC even suggest he is flirting with extremism.

But this wasn't an unconsidered outburst from a know-nothing amateur.

Charles is unusually well informed on the GM issue and has been concerned about the potential dangers for years.

Indeed, writing about them in the Mail in 1999 he warned against creating an 'Orwellian future'.

So the convictions he expresses so passionately today are the product of long reflection.

Now the Prince is challenging a Government that has always been in cahoots with America's biotech industry and is still (to its discredit) trying to foist GM crops on a reluctant nation.

The claim, of course, is that GM technology will solve Third World hunger. But Charles is contemptuous of such arguments.

He points out that the industrialisation of farming, which includes GM, is destroying the soil, polluting waterways and driving small producers off the land. And we don't have to take his word for it.

A recent UN report on food and farming, led by the top scientist at the environment department, Professor Robert Watson, came to similar conclusions.

Industrialised farming hasn't fed the world and GM technology isn't a magic wand. So why is Labour pushing so hard for it?

Why won't it listen to organic farmers who fear their land will be contaminated by GM cross-pollination? What about the danger of creating GM superweeds? Why pretend there is no threat to wildlife or the wider environment?

Prince Charles, with his extravagant lifestyle and habit of hopping into a helicopter at the drop of a hat, may not seem an entirely convincing saviour of the planet.

But he has put forward serious arguments that need to be heard. And struck a resounding chord with the public.