GM crops in Scotland?

July 2011

Scotland food
Photo from Flickr
American rice growers will give you two practical reasons NOT to grow GM crops.

One, you might contaminate your neighbour's non-GM fields. If you're lucky all you'll have to suffer is guilt and the loss of goodwill of someone it would be better to be friends with. If you're unlucky you'll also have to pay him compensation for his loss of non-GM sales.

Two, the market doesn't want GM, even if it's legal, and the cost of finding yourself with a crop and no market is crippling. US rice growers who suddenly discovered their non-GM seed had become contaminated by a (hastily legalised) GM strain suffered losses in excess of £762 million. This figure isn't an off-the-cuff estimate. It's what the courts have, so far, ordered to be paid by out the biotech company in compensation after it failed to contain its GM rice trials. The final figure may be higher, and there are certainly many more rice growers whose business was damaged but who were unable to bring or prove their case in court.

Scotland has another important reason to avoid GM.

In 2010, our food exports increased 14% to £1.06 billion. The Chief Executive of Scottish Development International said:
“This fantastic result is testimony to the hard work of the indigenous food and drink industry and the growing international perception of Scotland as a world-leading producer of high quality food and drink.”
This is a market we can't afford to lose to biotech industry whims.


The Scottish National Party now in power has taken a strong, precautionary, non-GM line. Be aware that all members of the Party must be under intense pressure to change their minds. Don't let it happen.

  • Jen Lavery, Food exports break £1bn for first time, Metro, 13.07.11
  • Robert Patrick, GM lawsuit in St. Louis settled for $750 million,, 2.07.11

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