Last year marked an unprecedented 100-fold increase in acreage of biotech crops planted since 1996 (420 million acres in 28 countries – 20 of them in the developing world). And yet, despite all the evidence over this time demonstrating the massive benefits and conclusive safety of these crops, many countries are still woefully resistant. However, the dam now appears ready to break in trend setting UK.
Britain has long been opposed to growing biotech crops, yet Prime Minister David Cameron recently talked about the positive shift in the UK’s attitude towards the technology. He emphasized the importance of fostering a “pro-science” culture and said he’s ready to call on the EU to relax their stifling restrictions on biotechnology.
He’s certainly not alone, as Britain’s Environment Secretary backs him up, pointing to the fact that 61% of UK farmers say they’d like to grow biotech crops. He also stated that biotech crops are “categorically” safer than conventional food since they’re subjected to “much greater scrutiny than traditional varieties.” Like we’ve often said – the most tested foods on the planet!
Furthermore, Britain’s Science Minister chastised the EU rules for “holding back ground-breaking work” in medicine and agriculture, voicing concerns about Europe’s failure to feed itself.
Highlighting a couple fantastic crops currently being developed in the UK, England has been working on a biotech purple tomato that will stay fresh twice as long, have better flavor, better resist pests and even has more nutritional benefits! In Ireland, they’ve developed a biotech potato that effectively resists blight (which caused the Irish Potato Famine that wiped out a quarter of the country’s population back in 1845).
For examples of individuals who embody this shifting tide, look no further than former anti-GMO activist Mark Lynas. Lynas has been firmly in the spotlight the past few months for his abrupt shift from a staunch opponent of biotech to one of its most outspoken supporters. His widely-quoted reason for switching sides, “I discovered science” is a perfect fit with PM Cameron’s pledge to foster a pro-science culture.
Polling indicates a slow-but-steady shift among the British population towards embracing ag-biotech. It shouldn’t be much longer before things reach a tipping point in the UK. And, not a moment too soon either, as it’s high time the numerous benefits for farmers, consumers and the environment are realized through crops grown in their own back yard.