Growing genetically modified crops is to be banned in Scotland, the Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has announced.
Mr Lochhead has confirmed that the Scottish Government intends to take advantage of new EU rules allowing countries to opt out of growing EU-authorised GM crops.
The Scottish Government will shortly submit a request that Scotland is excluded from any European consents for the cultivation of GM crops, including the variety of genetically modified maize already approved and six other GM crops that are awaiting authorisation.
The Cabinet Secretary said:
“Scotland is known around the world for our beautiful natural environment - and banning growing genetically modified crops will protect and further enhance our clean, green status. “There is no evidence of significant demand for GM products by Scottish consumers and I am concerned that allowing GM crops to be grown in Scotland would damage our clean and green brand, thereby gambling with the future of our £14 billion food and drink sector. “Scottish food and drink is valued at home and abroad for its natural, high quality which often attracts a premium price, and I have heard directly from food and drink producers in other countries that are ditching GM because of a consumer backlash. “That is why I strongly support the continued application of the precautionary principle in relation to GM crops and intend to take full advantage of the flexibility allowed under these new EU rules to ban GM crops from being grown in Scotland. “The Scottish Government has long-standing concerns about GM crops - concerns that are shared by other European countries and consumers, and which should not be dismissed lightly. “I firmly believe that GM policy in Scotland should be guided by what's best for our economy and our own agricultural sector rather than the priorities of others. I recently kicked off a national discussion on the future of Scottish agriculture, and welcome views from all sides of the GM debate.”
Scott Walker, NFU Scotland Chief Executive commented:
“We are disappointed that the Scottish Government has decided that no GM crops should ever be grown in Scotland. Other countries are embracing biotechnology where appropriate and we should be open to doing the same here in Scotland.
“Decisions should be taken on the individual merits of each variety, based on science and determined by whether the variety will deliver overall benefit. 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.
“What we want is an open debate that then allows decisions to be taken from an informed position reflecting current technology.”
As part of Farm Safety Awareness Week, NFU Scotland is offering advice on how to stay safe on farms.
Today, the focus is on handling livestock safely, and the union has released the following tips:
- The risk is greater if the animals have not been handled frequently
- Never underestimate the risks, even with good precautions in place
- You should have proper handling facilities, that are well maintained and in good working order
- A race and a crush suitable for the animals to be handled
- Trained and competent staff
- A selection of breeding animals with the aim to improve herd temperament
Carmen Wood was forced to give up farming, after she was gored by a cow. The NFU is now raising awareness of the dangers of livestock.Read the full story ›
Thousands of farmers from across Britain descended on Cockermouth today for the National Sheep Association's largest event of the year.
Paul Crone was there.
Pictures from today's National Sheep Association show in Cockermouth.Read the full story ›
More than seven thousand people are expected to attend today's National Sheep Association North Sheep show in Cockermouth.
Over two hundred trade stands and all of the UK's major sheep breed societies are planned to be present for the event at Millston Moor Farm.
It's the first time it has been staged in Cumbria for five years.
Bringing NSA North Sheep back to Cumbria is a great choice for us, as it's one of the country's most renowned sheep producing areas.
"NSA North Sheep will be focusing on the current challenges and opportunities in the industry, and we are expecting visitors from all over the UK to make the trip to the Marston's fantastic livestock farm for this important industry event."
Around 200 school children from Dumfries and Galloway have been taking part in a Food and Farming event to learn about the agricultural industry.
The Queensberry Initiative and Royal Highland Education Trust joined together to host workshops including everything from sampling wild rabbit to milking Daisy the cow.
Lori Carnochan reports:
The National Farmers Union is asking farmers to be vigilant after nearly £50,000 worth of sheep were stolen from a Cumbrian farm.
Twenty-six pedigree Swaledale breeding sheep were taken from an eight acre field at Long Marton near Appleby. It's thought the thieves must have experience rounding up livestock.
It's one of the biggest industries in our region, but how much do we really know about farming and food production?
Well people working across the industry have been telling hundreds of children about what goes on and how they may one day want to get involved. Tim Backshall went to Kelso to see what happened.
A photographer has spent five years documenting the life of fell farmers in the Lake District and the Herdwick sheep they care for.
Ian Lawson's work is now on show at Rheged and he says the exhibition aims to highlight the uncertain future of the industry.