I am not sure what century Conservative politician Owen Patterson, an ex-Secretary of State for the Environment, lives in but in a discussion last week on the Today programme, he was eulogising about the freedoms that farmers would enjoy once the dead hand of EU environmental policy were removed.
He claimed that farming in the UK had been ‘held back by the insane hostility to innovation’ by the EU.
When asked by John Humphrys to explain further, he castigated the EU’s ‘hysterical opposition to biotechnology’ and when pressed still further to explain, he was forced to spell out this concerned ‘GM crops and modern pesticides’.
He then quoted that agrochemical companies were being ‘skittled by witchcraft and superstition at the political level’ from creating new biotech products and he wished that the farming industry be ‘let loose’ to produce as much food as possible.
Witchcraft? It seems to me much more that Mr Patterson cannot face up to the scientific truth so he resorts to such absurd PR spin.
The truth is that the growing of GM crops, where they are allowed, contaminates native crops and actually increases the need for and use of modern pesticides, hence a reduction in biodiversity: super weeds have been created, resistant to those modern pesticides and seeds from GM crops cannot be reused, so vital in the third world, forcing farmers to buy all their seeds from the agrochemical giants.
In particular in our precious High Weald Area of Natural Beauty it behoves us to do all we can to preserve the landscape and native ecology and it is pleasing to note that the Rother Development Plan, currently out to consultation, contains a whole section on the importance of preserving our natural environment and devotes a draft policy specifically addressing the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity.
However, the Rother policies can be improved and I urge those who care about the environment to make their own comments on the Rother website.
Trustee, CPRE Sussex
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