In view of the UK Food Minister’s pronouncements on GM today (‘Food minister Owen Paterson backs GM crops’) we publish this open letter to the new Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse and to James Withers, Scotland Food and Drink’s CEO urging them to re-articulate the Scottish Government’s opposition to GM foods.

While the UK government may have decided to ignore overwhelming public opinion over many years on this issue, it’s worth reminding the media, the politicians and the people that agriculture and food here in Scotland is a devolved matter and that the Scottish Government has quite a different policy on GM. As it says here: ‘The Scottish Government is opposed to the cultivation of GM crops. The cultivation of GM crops could damage Scotland’s rich environment and would threaten our reputation for producing high quality and natural foods. It would damage Scotland’s image as a land of food and drink.’

This policy must be defended, promoted and articulated.

    • The UK Government’s pronouncement on GM risk further capture of the food culture to corporate control at just the time when we need to be encouraging smaller producers and community food initiatives.
    • The idea that GM is an answer to climate change has been widely debunked. Last year Friends of the Earth Europe published a report ‘Who Benefits from GM Crops’, which examined the evidence for these claims, and exposed that genetically modified (GM) crops could actually increase carbon emissions while failing to feed the world. GM crops are responsible for huge increases in the use of pesticides in the US and South America, intensifying fossil fuel use. The cultivation of GM soy to feed factory farmed animals is also contributing to widespread deforestation in South America, causing massive climate emissions. The report exposes that globally GM crops remain confined to less than 3% of agricultural land and more than 99% are grown for animal feed and agrofuels, rather than food. There is still not a single commercial GM crop with increased yield, drought-tolerance, salt-tolerance, enhanced nutrition or other beneficial traits long promised by biotech companies. Read the full report here.
    • Despite being presented as a coming giant that is inevitable in fact GM crops are grown by a tiny 2.7% of small or medium scale farmers worldwide, at the most, and less than 1% of farmers globally (see details here)
    • The recent British Science Association survey showed that public concern has not changed, and the number of people saying that GM food “should be encouraged” dropped from 46% in 2002 to 27% in 2012. (see Soil Association comment here).
    • See recent report on trace levels of Roundup. Eating genetically modified corn (GM corn) and consuming trace levels of Monsanto’s Roundup chemical fertilizer caused rats to develop horrifying tumors, widespread organ damage, and premature death. That’s the conclusion of a shocking new study that looked at the long-term effects of consuming Monsanto’s genetically modified corn. Learn more here.


We the undersigned believe that GM has no role in a Scottish Food Policy (Recipe for Success) that is committed to: our reputation as a land of high quality food and drink; ensuring we make healthy and sustainable choices; making our public sector an exemplar for sustainable food procurement, all key aims of the Recipe for Success, Scotland’s Food and Drink Policy.

David Atkinson, Scottish Food and Drink Leadership Forum
Laura Stewart, Director, Soil Association, Scotland
Patrick Krause, Chief Executive, Scottish Crofting Federation
Jo Hunt, farmer
Mike Small, Fife Diet
Rob Gibson MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross
Alison Johnstone MSP
Anthony Jackson, Munlochy GM Vigil
Clem Sandison, Glasgow Local Food Network
Eva Schonveld, Transition Scotland
Liz Murray, World Development Movement
Joanna Blythman, restaurant critic, author
Donald Reid, food writer
Wendy Gudmundsson
Mary Church, Friends of the Earth Scotland
Jane Gray, Let’s Live Local
Pete Ritchie, Chair, Nourish Scotland
Slow Food Edinburgh
Greig Robertson, Edible Estates
Dirk Douglas, Earthy
Sascha Grierson, organic farmer
Teresa Martinez, Environmental Consultant
Abi Mordin, Urban Roots
Neil Lovelock, Towards Transition Glasgow
Scott Erwin, Green City Wholefoods
James Chapman, Permaculture Scotland
Sandra Smith, GM Free Scotland
Alan Brown, Transition Linlithgow
Jane Ellis, Scottish Organics Producer Association
Jane Cullingworth, Forth Environment Link

  • Rachel April 18, 2013 at 19:16

    Please don’t become like America! It is very difficult to find food to trust and feel confidence in.

  • Forth Environment Link December 18, 2012 at 14:21

    We hope that the Scottish Government will reiterate its opposition position to GM foods.

  • Stacey Armstrong December 14, 2012 at 12:11

    Not only would it taint the so called clean, healthy, natural “Scotch Brand” you speak of the long-term effects oh human digestion is unknown and its correlation to negative health effects are astounding. I watched this documentary a while back and it completely altered my views of GM food it was pretty interesting.

  • Sandra Smith December 13, 2012 at 13:09

    It’s good to see many voices supporting the Scottish Government’s GM-free policy. It’s important to continue to focus on good quality, healthy and sustainable food that people have full confidence in.

    Regarding the rubbishing of Professor Seralini and his team’s work on the health risks of GM maize and Roundup herbicide. He has listed all the criticisms made and responded in full here:

  • Admin
    The Fife Diet December 12, 2012 at 23:24

    On Monday we published our Open Letter to back up Scotland’s GM-free policy (above). On Wednesday BBC Scotland ‘s Call Kaye programme gave room to Vivien Moses who rubbished recent studies showing the Monsanto GM maize and the company’s Roundup herbicide caused deformities in rats. Here’s why he was wrong …

  • Natalie Minnis, The Flavour Co December 12, 2012 at 17:05

    GM technology is irreversible. Unlike DDT, if it is found to be harmful, it cannot be simply cleaned up. It is not needed or wanted, except by those who stand to gain financially from it.

  • Dougie Strang December 11, 2012 at 20:50

    Great stuff. Keep up the pressure. Let Scotland be an example and put Westminster to shame.

  • Daye Tucker December 10, 2012 at 21:11

    Scotland is universally associated with a clean, healthy and natural, environment. It’s world famous Scotch Brand, its food products and its producers must be protected from the taint and mirage of GM.