One of the UK’s leading crop research facilities has said that GM crops are not the answer to farmers wanting to produce more food, as reported by fwi.co.uk.
Rothamsted Research made the announcement and said that GM technology could be a successful tool in other areas. But they warned that growing these biotech crops commercially in the Uk would be of little benefit.
Achim Dobermann, chief executive of Rothamsted Research, said the focus should instead be put on helping farmers improve their current yields. Dobermann added, speaking at the Bayer Youth Ag Summit in Brussels, that there are too many barriers in place for Genetically modified crops to be adopted in the UK. He said the continued advancement of gene editing will change everything.
“But we don’t need that anymore because we can do it with more advanced breeding technologies. The advancement of gene editing – which is a very different thing to GM – will change the whole picture.”, he said.
Emphasis was put onto other technologies recently, after a huge public backlash against GM technologies.
“I don’t think GM is the major solution for agriculture...Ten years ago, if you spoke to people like me, we would have said that certain challenges require a GM solution.”, Dobermann said.
Prof Dobermann did admit that while GM tech was a useful tool, especially when it comes to the development of niche crops such as GM oilseed plant false flax, produced by Rothamsted. He said that although GM technology makes agronomic practices much easier, it is not an essential tool for growers in the Uk.
“If you look long and hard at whether you need a commercial GM crop in the UK, except for the odd niche crop, (I would say) probably not,” Dobermann stated.
“We could become leaders in it if we wanted to, as we have invested so much (into research) that could be turned into commercial prospects, but I don’t think it would be viewed as a top priority.”, he added.
He concluded by adding there are many good things to do with genetic advancements but says if we can’t grow crops or raise animals then the results will be hard to come by.
“I’ve realised that despite the good things we can do with genetics, it’s about the business of agriculture. If we don’t know how to grow crops or look after animals then we just can’t get the results that are needed.”, he concluded.