I find myself accused of a number of heinous acts including “infecting” Wales with GM, acting irresponsibly and possibly of breaking the law. Not bad for a Welsh peasant who simply wishes to try – with the support of the scientific community – to facilitate the introduction of a new and valuable technology into Welsh agriculture.
So what is the precise nature of my supposedly “ill-informed”, “illegal” and “irresponsible” behaviour? The seeds I planted are maize varieties on the EU’s “common list” of approved crops. As such, my legal advice is that it is lawful to plant them within the EU. But according to some of my detractors those rules apparently do not apply in Wales.
Then there is the charge that I have “infected Wales with GM“. With what I ask? Genetic modification is a process as opposed to a product and as such cannot be bought or sold any more than “keyhole surgery”. The analogy of GM technology as a contagion is simply false.
Have I removed consumer choice? Again, I believe not. That choice was taken away several decades ago – unless you choose to survive entirely on wild fruit and nuts. We are all either wearing or consuming plant products that have been bred using technology that involves artificially manipulating plant genes. I can’t think of a single crop plant in the UK that has not been bred by artificially mutating its genes using chemicals or radiation. The group of techniques that are commonly referred to as genetic manipulation are simply more precise and safer ways of doing the same thing…