Scotland’s GMO Ban a Setback for Science

Last week Scotland banned GMOs to protect its “clean and green brand”, according to Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead. But that image-conscious decision looks like it might, well, backfire, as Edinburgh comes out looking distinctly Luddite. The BBC reports that Scottish scientists believe the ban will hurt the country’s contributions to scientific research:

Almost 30 organisations have signed an open letter seeking an urgent meeting with… Lochhead to discuss their concerns […]

The letter – whose signatories include the National Farmers’ Union, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Roslin Institute and the European Academies Science Advisory Council – said they were “extremely concerned” about the “negative impact” a ban could have.

It highlighted ongoing research on things which “might benefit Scotland’s farmers, consumers and environment” including potatoes that can reduce fungicide use and omega-3 enriched oilseeds that may offer a more sustainable source of feed for salmon farming.

The signatories further say that the ban “risks constraining Scotland’s contribution to research and leaving Scotland without access to agricultural innovations which are making farming more sustainable elsewhere in the world.”

The GMO ban was a capitulation to the groans and moans of misguided greens who apparently find the technological advancement “unnatural” enough to ignore the wealth of evidence that shows it to be safe. Anti-GMO environmentalists will claim the ban as a victory, but the opposition of the country’s scientists to the policy underlines the selective empiricism of the environmental movement. Greens assume the mantle of science at convenient times, falling back on scientific arguments whenever their policy prescriptions are challenged. But at other times, as here, they shed it unceremoniously.

This way of using science is especially hypocritical when you consider how useful GMOS are. If the future is going to be as crowded, hot, and ravaged by extreme weather as environmentalists say it will be, then crops capable of producing higher yields in smaller acreage and more unfavorable conditions will only become more important as time goes on. GMOs are a vital component of future human flourishing; Scotland’s decision is a step in the wrong direction.

Features Icon
show comments
© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service