The Scottish government has announced plans to ban genetically modified (GM) crops from being grown in Scotland, as part of an effort to protect its "clean and green brand."
In a recent statement released by Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead, the country is set to ban the growing of genetically modified crops, under new EU regulations that allow states to opt out of growing approved GM crops.
Saying that the Scottish government was not prepared to "gamble" with the future of the country's £14bn food and drink sector, he is to request that Scotland be excluded from any European consents for the cultivation of GM crops.
There is broad scientific consensus that foods from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are safe to eat, and GM crops are widely grown across Asia and the Americas. GMO advocates say they could boost global food production, but the issue remains divisive in Europe, amid concerns over their environmental impact.
Lochhead echoed those concerns Sunday, saying the potential benefits of GM crops don't outweigh environmental risks, and pointing to low demand for GM crops among Scottish consumers. The English government has already stated its intent to allow some GM crops to be grown for commercial purposes.
While the move has been broadly welcomed by environment groups, farming leaders said they were disappointed by the move.
"Other countries are embracing biotechnology where appropriate and we should be open to doing the same here in Scotland," said Scott Walker, chief executive of farming union NFU Scotland.
"These crops could have a role in shaping sustainable agriculture at some point and at the same time protecting the environment which we all cherish in Scotland."
BBC, The Verge, IFL Science
Gildshire Editor, Mia Russell