The EU decision to allow Member States to decide whether to cultivate GM crops will – if agreed by the European Parliament – be welcomed by low-profile minister Lord Rupert de Mauley.
This DEFRA parliamentary under secretary of state, is responsible for the department’s business in the House of Lords. He passes on to the Lords a digest of the statements made by his Right Hon Friend the Secretary of State (Owen Paterson).
On appointment Lord de Mauley said that farmers in the UK should be able to use genetically-modified crops, provided they can be shown to be safe for health and the environment.
He deplored EU legislation, which he said was stifling research into GM crops, so widely used in the USA and many developing countries:
“The unduly slow operation of the EU approval process, that is deterring investment and innovation in this technology. We want the EU regime to operate more effectively, grounded on an objective appraisal of the potential effects of GM crops on human health and the environment. Of course, we must be careful and base safety decisions on science and scientific evidence”.
Lord de Mauley is currently working closely with colleagues in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) on a life sciences agri-tech strategy, debated at the Royal Society on 21st May, 2014: Delivering the Agri-tech Strategy – improving the quality and productivity of the UK food production and processing sectors.
Though only indirect references were made – using the term ‘good science’ – Lord de Mauley has expressed hopes that ‘cutting-edge technology’ will be exported and also taken up by the domestic agricultural sector urging the whole of the farming industry to “up its game”:
“Wheat scientists and breeders are developing new lines that focused on sustainability traits, such as nutrient use efficiency, drought tolerance and pest and disease resistance”.
Business Green reports that, in June last year, de Mauley, now described as being responsible for GM crops, met Christopher Pollock, the outgoing chair of the advisory committee on releases to the environment (ACRE), and official adviser to the government on authorisation for growing GM crops, to discuss changing the European GM regulations.