Skip to main content

Gm Crops

Volume 408: debated on Friday 11 July 2003

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

The Strategy Unit's report, "Field Work: Weighing up the Costs and Benefits of GM crops", is being published today as a report to Government. The report sets out the Strategy Unit's analysis of the overall costs and benefits of commercial cultivation—or non-cultivation—of GM crops in the UK. It looks at crops that are currently available and at possible developments over the next 10–15 years.I commissioned the Strategy Unit project as one of three strands of work on GM, along with the Science Review and the public debate "GM Nation?" The report does not contain specific recommendations for Government. But, along with any responses to it and the outcomes of the other two strands, it will inform Government decision-making and policy on GM crops and foods—on which my Department leads.The Strategy Unit's central conclusions are that:

existing GM crops could offer some cost and convenience advantages to UK farmers;
however, any economic benefit to the UK is likely to be limited, at least in the short-term—only a narrow range of existing GM crops are currently suited to UK conditions, and weak consumer demand is likely to limit take-up;
looking to the longer term, future developments in GM crops have the potential to offer more wide-ranging benefits, to farmers and to consumers—possibilities include GM crops with agronomic benefits more suited to the UK; GM crops delivering direct health benefits (e.g. delivering foods with reduced allergenicity or added nutrients); or non-food GM crops used as a source of pharmaceutical and vaccines;
however, the overall balance of future costs and benefits will depend on public attitudes, and on the ability of the regulatory system to manage uncertainties.

The Strategy Unit has invited comments on the report by 17 October 2003. Comments will be published on the Strategy Unit website and passed to my Department.

Copies of the report have been placed in the Vote Office and the Libraries.