SNP MSP demands GM crops ban continues post-Brexit

GM crops remain controversial. (Photo by Sion Touhig/Getty Images)
GM crops remain controversial. (Photo by Sion Touhig/Getty Images)

The UK government must allow Scotland to continue opposing GM crops cultivation after Brexit, the SNP MSP Gail Ross has said.

Ms Ross has made the plea after a Freedom of Information response from the UK Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) suggested the UK government has only given only “initial thought” to what will happen to GM regulation in Scotland after Brexit and will not consider this again until after the UK has left the EU.

Commercial planting of GM crops is currently banned in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland following decisions by each devolved administration in 2015 to opt out of the EU’s consent for GM crop cultivation.

Ms Ross, who represents Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, said: “More than 19 months on from the Brexit vote, it beggars belief that Michael Gove’s department has barely considered the future of GM regulation in the UK following Brexit.

“Highland Council were one of the first in Scotland to campaign for a GM free landscape, and this triumph should not be up for negotiation. It should be a no-brainer that the Tory government should maintain the GM opt-out and not impose GM crops on Scotland against our will.

“It is also extremely worrying that the Department for International Trade won’t completely rule out allowing chlorinated chicken, beef and other products to flood the UK’s marketplace after Brexit.

“We cannot see a race to the bottom on food standards after Brexit.

“The UK’s global reputation may be damaged but we want to maintain Scotland’s wholesome, clean, green reputation where, when it comes to food and drink, provenance of product is paramount.

“Michael Gove campaigned fervently for Brexit but refuses to engage in considering how it will actually work in practice.

She added: “The Tory government must meaningfully engage with the Scottish Government and ensure that the interests of our £14 billion food and drinks sector is protected and not undermined by the Tories’ reckless decisions.”

Defra was asked if it had assessed the impact differing approaches to GM foods within the UK would have on trade deals with non-EU countries.

Defra said it had “given some initial thought to the implications of not having a consistent UK approach, but without reaching any firm conclusions”. It added that further discussions would take place after the UK has left the EU.