Drew Smith MSP

GM Crops and Evidence-based Policies

harvest-3-1550326-1280x960Last month the Scottish Government announced that it will ban the growing of all GM crops in Scotland. I have concerns that the Government arrived at this decision, without the aid of scientific research and consultation in the decision-making process, especially in light of the fact that the vacancy of Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland has been unfilled since last December.

Following my two recent written questions to the Government regarding this matter, I also used the first FMQ back from recess to directly ask the First Minister what scientific evidence was used as the basis of the Scottish Government’s recent announcement on GM technology. The First Minister’s answer did not clarify to me whether the Government had received any direct scientific evidence in reaching its decision. You can watch my exchange with the First Minister here:

You can also read the proceedings in the Official Report.

Many from the scientific community in Scotland have also voiced their concerns about the Government’s decision, with 28 organisations – including some leading scientific research centres such as Edinburgh University, the Roslin Institute, and the Science Council –have signed an open letter asking for an urgent meeting with Richard Lochhead, the Scottish Environment Secretary, to discuss the ban. I firmly believe that Government policy, on complex issues such as this, should involve proper consultation with experts who have the relevant knowledge and the wealth of experience to help advise on the best course of action, if any such action is indeed required. At present I do not believe we have been provided with any reassurance or evidence that the Government has received any direct scientific advice to base their ban upon.

Whatever your view on GM technology, I don’t think it is unreasonable to support well researched arguments being tested by scientists and I hope that the Scottish Government will seek to appoint a Chief Scientific Adviser as soon as possible.

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