Will Brexit Affect the Ban on GM Crops in Scotland ?

Scotland currently has a ban on using GM (Genetically Modified ) crops. The Scottish Government is concerned that with Brexit this is now under threat.  Rural Economy Secretary in the Scottish Government Fergus Ewing has written to his UK Government counterpart Michael Gove on the matter.

In his letter Fergus Ewing said:

“I’m sure you are aware that, after many years of difficult negotiation, EU law now contains important provisions that allow Scotland to opt out of cultivating EU approved genetically modified (GM) crops.  This provision is extremely important for Scotland.  The commercial success of our food and drink industry is built on Scotland’s reputation for quality, provenance and the natural larder which we are fortunate to have.”

“the lack of any reference to GM policy in the Conservative manifesto in mind, I ask you to confirm that the GM opt out provisions will continue to exist post-Brexit and that the UK government will not attempt to impose the cultivation of GM crops on Scotland against our will.  At the same time, it is vital that the labelling of GM food and feed products is not weakened so that consumers can exercise choice.”

GM crops have had their DNA modified which produces a new trait in the plant which would not occur naturally. At the moment as members of the EU  “Directives 2002/53/EC and 2002/55/EC contain provisions which allow the Member States to prohibit, under certain well defined conditions, the use of a variety in all or in part of their territory or to lay down appropriate conditions for the cultivation of a variety.”(Directive (EU) 2015/412 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2015)

Fergus Ewing

Fergus Ewing Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity launching the fruit and veg action plan at the Royal Highland Show (photo Scot Gov)

Fergus Ewing went on to state in his letter:

“What this highlights is that when the UK leaves the European Union, and EU competencies are repatriated, it is vital that competence for agriculture and environmental policy, including approaches on GM, transfer to Scotland.”

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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