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Farmers Praise GM Crops in EU Study



UK: Prince 'Must Prove Anti-GM Claim'

BBC News, 17 August 2008

Prince Charles must prove his claim that GM crops could cause a global environmental disaster, Environment Minister Phil Woolas has challenged.

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, the minister said it is now down to the opponents of genetically modified food to prove it is unsafe.

"If it has been a disaster then please provide the evidence," he said.

On Wednesday Prince Charles said firms developing GM crops risk the biggest environmental disaster "of all time".

The government's initial response to the prince's comments in sister paper the Daily Telegraph was to say that it welcomed all voices in the "important" debate and that safety was a priority.

'Africa strategy'

However, on Sunday Mr Woolas went further, saying it was the government's "moral responsibility" to investigate whether genetically modified crops could help provide a solution to hunger in the
developing world.

"We see this as part of our Africa strategy," he said.

"It's easy for those of us with plentiful food supplies to ignore the issue but we have a responsibility to use science to help the less well off where we can.

"I'm grateful to Prince Charles for raising the issue. He raises some very important doubts that are held by many people.

"But government ministers have a responsibility to base policy on science and I do strongly believe that we have a moral responsibility to the developing world to ask the question: can GM crops help?"

Earlier this week the Prince of Wales warned future reliance on corporations to mass produce food would drive millions of farmers off their land.

He said huge multi-national corporations involved in developing GM foods were conducting a "gigantic experiment with nature and the whole of humanity which has gone seriously wrong".

What should be debated was "food security not food production", he said.

The prince's comments come at a time of rising world food prices and food shortages.

The biotech industry says that GM technology can help combat world hunger and poverty by delivering higher yields from crops and also reduce the use of pesticides.

However, green groups and aid agencies have doubts about GM technology's effectiveness in tackling world hunger and have concerns about the long-term environmental impact.
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