2007 - 2021

A GM Free Scotland

images (1)The BBC and others are misreporting the GM ban as a new policy (‘Scotland to Ban GM crops’). It’s not. It’s the continuation of a long-held policy.

In 2013 the Scottish Government laid out the following principles which guide their opposition:

The precautionary principle – insufficient evidence has been presented that GM crops are safe.

The preventative principle – the cultivation of GM crops could tarnish Scotland’s natural environment and damage wider aspects of the Scottish economy such as tourism and the production of high quality, natural food

The democratic principle – science-based decision making cannot replace the will of the people. There is no evidence of a demand for GM products by Scottish consumers.

The fact that the Scottish government has put together these sound, well-reasoned principles to guide their opposition gives us real hope that Scotland can be a strong voice against the pro-GM lobby in the years to come, and we can focus our attention on building a sustainable food system for the next generation.

The Scottish Government – and Richard Lochhead in particular – should be warmly congratulated for this initiative in the face or huge lobbying pressure from industry and multinationals. This will protect our environment, our health and our reputation as a food growing nation. This is one of the most forward-thinking and radical choices the Scottish Government has made.

This article from Common Dreams outlines 10 Reasons Why We Don’t Need GM.

With the cost of food recently skyrocketing – hitting not just shoppers but the poor and hungry in the developing world – genetically modified (GM) foods are once again being promoted as the way to feed the world. But this is little short of a confidence trick. Far from needing more GM foods, there are urgent reasons why we need to ban them altogether.

1. GM foods won’t solve the food crisis

A 2008 World Bank report concluded that increased biofuel production is the major cause of the increase in food prices.[1] GM giant Monsanto has been at the heart of the lobbying for biofuels (crops grown for fuel rather than food) — while profiting enormously from the resulting food crisis and using it as a PR opportunity to promote GM foods!

“The climate crisis was used to boost biofuels, helping to create the food crisis; and now the food crisis is being used to revive the fortunes of the GM industry.” – Daniel Howden, Africa correspondent of The Independent[ 2]

“The cynic in me thinks that they’re just using the current food crisis and the fuel crisis as a springboard to push GM crops back on to the public agenda. I understand why they’re doing it, but the danger is that if they’re making these claims about GM crops solving the problem of drought or feeding the world, that’s bullshit.” – Prof Denis Murphy, head of biotechnology at the University of Glamorgan in Wales[3]

2. GM crops do not increase yield potential

Despite the promises, GM has not increased the yield potential of any commercialised crops.[4] In fact, studies show that the most widely grown GM crop, GM soya, has suffered reduced yields.[5]

A report that analyzed nearly two decades worth of peer reviewed research on the yield of the primary GM food/feed crops, soybeans and corn (maize), reveals that despite 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization, genetic engineering has failed to significantly increase US crop yields. The author, former US EPA and US FDA biotech specialist Dr Gurian-Sherman, concludes that when it comes to yield, “Traditional breeding outperforms genetic engineering hands down.”[6]

“Let’s be clear. As of this year [2008], there are no commercialized GM crops that inherently increase yield. Similarly, there are no GM crops on the market that were engineered to resist drought, reduce fertilizer pollution or save soil. Not one.” – Dr Doug Gurian-Sherman[ 7]

3. GM crops increase pesticide use

US government data shows that in the US, GM crops have produced an overall increase, not decrease, in pesticide use compared to conventional crops.[8]

“The promise was that you could use less chemicals and produce a greater yield. But let me tell you none of this is true.” – Bill Christison, President of the US National Family Farm Coalition[9]

4. There are better ways to feed the world

A major UN/World Bank-sponsored report compiled by 400 scientists and endorsed by 58 countries concluded that GM crops have little to offer global agriculture and the challenges of poverty, hunger, and climate change, because better alternatives are available. In particular, the report championed “agroecological” farming as the sustainable way forward for developing countries.[10]

5. Other farm technologies are more successful

Integrated Pest Management and other innovative low-input or organic methods of controlling pests and boosting yields have proven highly effective, particularly in the developing world.[11] Other plant breeding technologies, such as Marker Assisted Selection (non-GM genetic mapping), are widely expected to boost global agricultural productivity more effectively and safely than GM.[12] [13]

“The quiet revolution is happening in gene mapping, helping us understand crops better. That is up and running and could have a far greater impact on agriculture [than GM].” – Prof John Snape, head of the department of crop genetics, John Innes Centre[14]

6. GM foods have not been shown to be safe to eat

Genetic modification is a crude and imprecise way of incorporating foreign genetic material (e.g. from viruses, bacteria) into crops, with unpredictable consequences. The resulting GM foods have undergone little rigorous and no long-term safety testing, but animal feeding tests have shown worrying health effects.[15] Only one study has been published on the direct effects on humans of eating a GM food.[16] It found unexpected effects on gut bacteria, but was never followed up.

It is claimed that Americans have eaten GM foods for years with no ill effects. But these foods are unlabeled in the US and no one has monitored the consequences. With other novel foods like trans fats, it has taken decades to realize that they have caused millions of premature deaths.[17]

“We are confronted with the most powerful technology the world has ever known, and it is being rapidly deployed with almost no thought whatsoever to its consequences. ” — Dr Suzanne Wuerthele, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) toxicologist

7. Stealth GMOs in animal feed – without consumers’ consent

Meat, eggs and dairy products from animals raised on the millions of tons of GM feed imported into Europe do not have to be labelled. Some studies show that contrary to GM and food industry claims, animals raised on GM feed ARE different from those raised on non-GM feed.[18] Other studies show that if GM crops are fed to animals, GM material can appear in the resulting products[19] and that the animals’ health can be affected.[20] So eating “stealth GMOs” may affect the health of consumers.

8. GM crops are a long-term economic disaster for farmers

A 2009 report showed that GM seed prices in America have increased dramatically, compared to non-GM and organic seeds, cutting average farm incomes for US farmers growing GM crops. The report concluded, “At the present time there is a massive disconnect between the sometimes lofty rhetoric from those championing biotechnology as the proven path toward global food security and what is actually happening on farms in the US that have grown dependent on GM seeds and are now dealing with the consequences. “[21]

9. GM and non-GM cannot co-exist

GM contamination of conventional and organic food is increasing. An unapproved GM rice that was grown for only one year in field trials was found to have extensively contaminated the US rice supply and seed stocks.[22] In Canada, the organic oilseed rape industry has been destroyed by contamination from GM rape.[23] In Spain, a study found that GM maize “has caused a drastic reduction in organic cultivations of this grain and is making their coexistence practically impossible”. [24]

The time has come to choose between a GM-based, or a non-GM-based, world food supply.

“If some people are allowed to choose to grow, sell and consume GM foods, soon nobody will be able to choose food, or a biosphere, free of GM. It’s a one way choice, like the introduction of rabbits or cane toads to Australia; once it’s made, it can’t be reversed.” – Roger Levett, specialist in sustainable development[ 25]

10. We can’t trust GM companies

The big biotech firms pushing their GM foods have a terrible history of toxic contamination and public deception.[26] GM is attractive to them because it gives them patents that allow monopoly control over the world’s food supply. They have taken to harassing and intimidating farmers for the “crime” of saving patented seed or “stealing” patented genes — even if those genes got into the farmer’s fields through accidental contamination by wind or insects.[27]

“Farmers are being sued for having GMOs on their property that they did not buy, do not want, will not use and cannot sell.” – Tom Wiley, North Dakota farmer[28]


  1. A Note on Rising Food Prices. Donald Mitchell, World Bank report, 2008. http://image. guardian. co.uk/sys- files/Environmen t/documents/ 2008/07/10/ Biofuels. PDF
  2. Hope for Africa lies in political reforms. Daniel Howden, The Independent, 8 September 2008, http://www.independ ent.co.uk: 80/opinion/ commentators/ daniel-howden- hope-for- africa-lies- in-political- reforms-922487. html
  3. GM: it’s safe, but it’s not a saviour. Rob Lyons, Spiked Online, 7 July 2008, http://www.spiked- online.com/ index.php? /site/article/ 5438/
  4. The adoption of bioengineered crops. Jorge Fernandez-Cornejo and William D. McBride, US Department of Agriculture Report, May 2002, http://www.ers. usda.gov/ publications/ aer810/aer810. pdf
  5. Glyphosate-resistan t soyabean cultivar yields compared with sister lines. Elmore, R.W. et al., Agronomy Journal, Vol. 93, No. 2, 2001, pp. 408–412
  6. Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops. Doug Gurian-Sherman, Union of Concerned Scientists, 2009, http://tiny. cc/eqZST
  7. Genetic engineering — a crop of hyperbole. Doug Gurian-Sherman, The San Diego Union Tribune, 18 June 2008, http://www.signonsa ndiego.com/ uniontrib/ 20080618/ news_lz1e18guria n.html
  8. Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use: The First Thirteen Years. Charles Benbrook, Ph.D., The Organic Center, November 2009, http://www.organic- center.org/ science.pest. php?action= view&report_id=159
  9. Family Farmers Warn of Dangers of Genetically Engineered Crops. Bill Christison, In Motion magazine, 29 July 1998, http://www.inmotion magazine. com/genet1. html
  10. International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development: Global Summary for Decision Makers (IAASTD). Beintema, N. et al., 2008, http://www.agassess ment.org/ index.cfm? Page=IAASTD% 20Reports&ItemID=2713
  11. International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development: Global Summary for Decision Makers (IAASTD). Beintema, N. et al., 2008, http://www.agassess ment.org/ index.cfm? Page=IAASTD% 20Reports&ItemID=2713
  12. Marker-assisted selection: an approach for precision plant breeding in the twenty-first century. Collard, B.C.Y. and D.J. Mackill, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, Vol. 363, 2008, pp. 557-572, 2008
  13. Breeding for abiotic stresses for sustainable agriculture. Witcombe J.R. et al., Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 2008, Vol. 363, pp. 703-716
  14. Gene mapping the friendly face of GM technology. Professor John Snape, Farmers Weekly, 1 March 2002, p. 54
  15. Here is a small selection of such papers: Fine structural analysis of pancreatic acinar cell nuclei from mice fed on GM soybean. Malatesta, M. et al., Eur. J. Histochem., Vol. 47, 2003, pp. 385–388; Ultrastructural morphometrical and immunocytochemical analyses of hepatocyte nuclei from mice fed on genetically modified soybean. Malatesta, M. et al., Cell Struct Funct., Vol. 27, 2002, pp. 173-180; Ultrastructural analysis of testes from mice fed on genetically modified soybean. Vecchio L. et al., Eur. J. Histochem., Vol. 48, pp. 448-454, 2004; A long-term study on female mice fed on a genetically modified soybean: effects on liver ageing. Malatesta M. et al., Histochem Cell Biol., Vol. 130, 2008, pp. 967-977; Effects of diets containing genetically modified potatoes expressing Galanthus nivalis lectin on rat small intestine. Ewen S.W. and A. Pusztai, The Lancet, Vol. 354, 1999, pp. 1353–1354; New Analysis of a Rat Feeding Study with a Genetically Modified Maize Reveals Signs
    Hepatorenal Toxicity. Séralini, G.-E. et al., Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol., Vol. 52, 2007, pp. 596-602.
  16. Assessing the survival of transgenic plant DNA in the human gastrointestinal tract. Netherwood T. et al., Nature Biotechnology, Vol. 22, 2004, pp. 204–209.
  17. Trans Fats: The story behind the label. Paula Hartman Cohen, Harvard Public Health Review, 2006, http://www.hsph. harvard.edu/ review/rvw_ spring06/ rvwspr06_ transfats. html
  18. Report on animals exposed to GM ingredients in animal feed. Professor Jack A. Heinemann, PhD. Prepared for the Commerce Commission of New Zealand, 24 July 2009, http://bit.ly/ 4HcJuJ
  19. Detection of Transgenic and Endogenous Plant DNA in Digesta and Tissues of Sheep and Pigs Fed Roundup Ready Canola Meal. Sharma, R. et al., J. Agric. Food Chem., Vol. 54, No. 5, 2006, pp. 1699–1709; Assessing the transfer of genetically modified DNA from feed to animal tissues. Mazza, R. et al., Transgenic Res., Vol. 14, No. 5, 2005, pp. 775–784; Detection of genetically modified DNA sequences in milk from the Italian market. Agodi, A., et al., Int. J. Hyg. Environ. Health, Vol. 209, 2006, pp. 81–88
  20. Report on animals exposed to GM ingredients in animal feed. Professor Jack A. Heinemann, PhD. Prepared for the Commerce Commission of New Zealand, 24 July 2009, http://bit.ly/ 4HcJuJ
  21. The Magnitude and Impacts of the Biotech and Organic Seed Price Premium. Dr Charles Benbrook, The Organic Center, December 2009, http://www.organic- center.org/ reportfiles/ Seeds_Final_ 11-30-09. pdf
  22. Risky business: Economic and regulatory impacts from the unintended release of genetically engineered rice varieties into the rice merchandising system of the US. Blue, Dr E. Neal, report for Greenpeace, 2007, http://www.greenpea ce.org/raw/ content/internat ional/press/ reports/risky- business. pdf
  23. Seeds of doubt: North American farmers’ experience of GM crops. Soil Association, 2002, http://www.soilasso ciation.org/ seedsofdoubt
  24. Coexistence of plants and coexistence of farmers: Is an individual choice possible? Binimelis, R., Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, Vol. 21, No. 2, April 2008
  25. Choice: Less can be more. Roger Levett, Food Ethics magazine, Vol. 3, No. 3, Autumn 2008, p. 11, http://www.foodethi cscouncil. org/node/ 384
  26. See, for example, Marie-Monique Robin’s documentary film, Le Monde Selon Monsanto (The World According to Monsanto), ARTE, 2008; and the website of the NGO, Coalition Against Bayer-Dangers, www.cbgnetwork. org
  27. GM company Monsanto has launched many such lawsuits against farmers. A famous example is the case of the Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser. Just one article on this case is “GM firm sues Canadian farmer”, BBC News Online, 6 June 2000, http://news. bbc.co.uk/ 2/hi/americas/ 779265.stm
  28. Monsanto “Seed Police” Scrutinize Farmers. Stephen Leahy, InterPress Service, 15 January 2004, http://www.commondr eams.org/ headlines05/ 0115-04.htm

Comments (104)

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  1. HandandShrimp says:

    I think this is the right decision for Scotland and the niche market that Scottish produce occupies. One can be cautious without being anti-science. There has been lots of commendable work over the years on improving strains which provide for better harvests. However, the commercial practices of the GM producers leave much to be desired and there are question marks over long term benefits. Scotland does not need to go down this road and should not go down this road. There is no imperative pushing us down this road.

  2. ScottieDog says:

    This is a long talk by Mark Shepard, farmer and author of the book Restoration Agroculture.
    It’s well worth a listen..


    1. scottieDog says:


      1. Bill says:

        Going by how the food industry behaves, perhaps agroculture was not a bad word!

  3. John Craig says:

    One of our most successful exports with the blessing of the Scottish Government is Farmed Salmon.
    This heavily GM crop requires some four or five tons of fish produce to produce one ton of Salmon.
    In addition, the damage done to our seas is phenomenal, with the virtual disappearance of the Sea Trout from West Coast rivers and lochs and Wild Salmon numbers dropping dramatically.
    Imagine any other form of farming where tens of thousands of living creatures can be killed by parasites, suffocated by algal blooms or stung to death by Jellyfish and the practice is still actively encouraged by the Scottish Government.
    This is not some fantasy island statement, it’s here on our doorstep and growing all the time with most of the business being done by companies who would not be allowed to operate in the manner they do in their own countries. Yes it brings employment to the Highlands, but the majority of Fish Farm and related processing work is filled with foreign labour (in my back yard anyway; but don’t expect me to define foreign). Have a Google at G.A.A.I.A. or one of it’s related sites for more lovely facets of Salmon Farming and the genetic modifications it entails.

    1. Ian says:

      There’s a lot wrong with fish-farming, but it’s nothing to do with GM. There are currently no commercial GM animals – that includes fish. You’re confusing GM with pesticides. Banning GM or continuing an existing ban) will make no difference to fish farming.

      1. Yes fish farming is a much lauded industry which pollutes our lochs and employs a small amount of people then exports a product across the world – not convinced of its benefits at all but as you say, nothing to do with GM

        1. Mike says:

          It also produces inferior tasting fish. You can actually taste the difference in fish which is farmed to fish which is captured from the wild. Something to do with the diabetic inducing feed they stuff them with.

      2. John Craig says:

        I’m of pretty modest educational achievement Ian, but I’ve spent the better part of fifty years angling for Sea Trout and Salmon on Scotland’s West Coast; I have wonderful memories of what was on offer and could cry at the state of things now. I don’t bring expert opinion to any discussion on here, but I bring what I feel is pertinent observation. Now how’s this for observation on GM in Fish Farming. Within a stones throw of where I live reside two Marine Biologists; one employed by a major Salmon Farming operation, one employed by the local Fisheries Management. These people actually talk to lesser mortals such as I and occasionally give me the lowdown on what is going on in their worlds respectively. GENETIC MODIFICATION OF FARMED SALMON TO MAKE THEM INFERTILE. STOPS GENETIC DILUTION OF WILD FISH IF THEY ESCAPE AND MATE.
        This is up and running , maintaining a stock of captive GM fish for egg stripping is a problem.

        ALEVIN/PARR/SMOLT PERIOD DOWN FROM 3/4 YEARS TO 2/3 YEARS. Gets the crop into the cages one year earlier courtesy of GM.

        That’s two of the readily remembered modifications to wild salmon that come to mind. Is it just Salmon farming? We had Musselguy on here blinding us with his knowledge on GM. Shellfish Farming also has a history of GM, some of it with discernible adverse effects on human beings. Now your obviously a studious guy so come out of the Wheatfield and dip your toe in the water.

        1. Ian says:

          John, there certainly are experiments in genetic modification (GM) to produce fish that grow faster, can tolerate lower oxygen levels, etc. All the kinds of changes that were made to land-based farm animals over the last 10,000 years. At the moment these are purely experimental. They should be thoroughly tested before we consider allowing them to be used commercially. And they will be – that’s normal for any new crop plant or farm animal whether GM or not.

          However, there are currently no commercially licensed GM farm animals for food production (including fish and shellfish) anywhere in the world. The pollution problems caused by fish farming are entirely unrelated to GM. They’re caused by excess food in the water, chemicals used to treat pests, waste from the fish themselves, etc.

          There’s ongoing research into the use of GM organisms in fish farming, but currently there are none.

          Funnily enough, my degree is in Marine Biology.

          1. John Craig says:

            I totally understand the pollution aspects of the Salmon Farming industry Ian. My observations on the GM aspects of the industry are possibly still in the infant state. The licencing of the mechanism that makes for a gender neutral crop of fish is I believe in the pipeline. Since one of the biggest objections to the industry in general is the obliteration of the wild gene pool, it will be interesting to see if the Scottish Government will give this the green light. This would be a make or break scenario for the industry as well as the government’s credibility. I’m going netting for tagging purposes over the next few days, so I will be able to re-visit the origins of my statement.

          2. John Craig says:

            Hello again Ian,
            asking about my previous statements and they are not entirely without foundation.
            The work on gender neutral stock has been done apparently. Set aside because of increased efficiency in stock retention, difficulty in maintaining a working level of brood stock and funnily enough, because over 80% of Norwegian sourced stock makes it’s way back to Norwegian waters on escape so Scottish growers are quite happy with that. This was from a tagged study of 1,000 fish released from Ardmair. The decreased time to Smolting claim produced a very non -committal reply but no actual denial. The same person offered the information that most of the Brown Trout on offer on your supermarket shelves is triploid in nature, but nobody seems to be too fussed about it. It’s probably well within your abilities to determine the truth of that part of this article. If nothing else, I feel I can safely say that the presence of GM in aquaculture is not some sort of paranoia, in fact it should come as no surprise.

          3. Ian says:

            Hi again John,

            I wrote a long response explaining the history of GM on another thread… https://dev.bellacaledonia.org.uk/2015/08/12/eat-your-gm-cereal/#comment-91048

            I’m reluctant to go through it all again here because it is quite long so I’ll try to explain briefly..

            Most organisms have 2 sets of chromosomes in each of their cells (we call them diploid). Some have more than 2 sets of chromosomes – we call these organisms polyploid.

            Triploid organisms are plants or animals which have 3 sets of chromosomes in each cell – they’re a type of polyploid organism. All bananas and many citrus fruits, watermelons and apples are triploid – the rest have even more sets of chromosomes as do all cereal crops, potatoes, sugar cane, leeks, commercial varieties of strawberry, etc, etc. In fact, almost every plant you’ve ever eaten and most of those you grow in your garden are polyploid. These are no more and no less GM than triploid salmon.

            It seems like splitting hairs and perhaps it is, but polyploidy, although rarer in animals than plants does occur in nature in many invertebrates as well as amphibians and fish. The humble goldfish is polyploid – is it a GM organism?

            Organisms with an odd number of sets of chromosomes tend to be sterile because their chromosomes cannot form pairs when trying to make sex cells. That’s why some traditional varieties of apple need to be pollinated by a different variety. It’s also why triploid salmon and bananas are sterile.

            The potential use of triploid salmon is a bit of an oddity – it’s being done in order to reduce the environmental impact of salmon farming and seems to be making farming salmon more difficult. It’s certainly not about making more money.

            What the Scottish Government mean when they say they have banned GM crops is that they have banned transgenic crops (those which contain DNA from 2 or more unrelated species). If they really meant GM then arguably that would include polyploid organisms such as triploid salmon (and tetraploid goldfish!), all cereals, potatoes, etc. It’s clear that’s not what they mean.

            The ‘GM’ organisms you referred to in shellfish farming are the same – triploid.

            It’s an odd situation we’ve got ourselves into where there is not a single animal in our food chain which is transgenic (usually referred to as GM) and we’ve just banned transgenic plants (calling them GM) but we do have organisms which have clearly been genetically modified and we’re not banning them because nobody calls this GM.

            The situation is about to get even more complex – a co-operative of Canadian apple growers has just started commercial production of 2 new apple varieties which have had their DNA altered by the same techniques used to produce transgenic organisms (these techniques are not required to produce triploid or other polyploid organisms) but they contain only the DNA of apples. It is not clear at all if the Scottish Government’s ban covers those – or if those who are alarmed by GM organisms are as alarmed by them.

          4. Ian says:

            ..and farmed brown trout is mostly triploid, as is a lot of brown trout raised and released for anglers. It grows bigger and faster than diploid fish (that’s a characterisitic of most polyploid organisms – it’s one reason why almost all crop plants are polyploid) but is sterile so doesn’t interbreed with wild populations.

  4. Andy Borland says:

    Just like fracking, GM crops are neither needed nor wanted in Scotland.

    1. Valerie says:

      Completely agree! There is a huge anti GM lobby in USA that is finally coming to the fore to inform people about ‘clean’ food, and highlight the issues that Big Food corporations are wreaking.
      Yes, wheat may have been generically modified and spliced many times to increase yield and resist pests, but the resulting proteins have never been tested as to effects on humans. Cue huge increases in celiac, obesity and diabetes, that are off the scale in the population. Research is just coming to terms now with how these ‘created’ proteins are interacting with humans biology.
      The Scottish Govt are ahead of their time here and should be commended.

      I hear what John Craig says about farmed salmon, and totally agree that the industry should be overhauled in terms of getting back to an organic healthy product.

  5. colin says:

    It is not GM crops per se that l object to but the entire practice.

    Evidence that weeds are becoming naturally resistant to Glyphosate resulting in heavier applications of the weed killer but that is nothing in comparison to the damage being done to wildlife, many species of birds rely on insects that hatch on weeds that grow on fields…l have no wish to live in a countryside where crops stand proudly but where there are no butterflies, no swallows swooping, no bees no hedgehogs or no partridges.

    1. John Craig says:

      your mention of declining insect species is one of the biggest indicators today that things are going badly wrong in the natural world . I’m almost seventy years old and was brought up in the Glasgow area in what was a Mining/Agricultural environment. In my boyhood, the fields were alive with Butterflies of all sorts. At night, the air was filled with Moths, Beetles, you name it, but that is no more. The night in particular has an eerie stillness. I’m living up in Scourie now and if you drive from Lairg up to Laxford Bridge at night in summer, you hardly get an insect on your windscreen. Twenty years ago, you had to stop and refill your windscreen washer bottle at any convenient burn and scrape the mashed up insect life from the screen, such was the wealth of arial activity. No doubt the old chestnut of Global warming can be pulled from the fire to explain such a change, but to my mind the finger points at insecticides.

      1. James Barr Gardner says:

        I remember being on holiday at Kylestrome in the late 60’s, in August. It was harrowing driving up to Scourie due to the millions of frogs crossing/squashed on the road so I guess there must have been billions of insects to sustain this amphibian horde.

      2. MBC says:

        It’s one reason why urban greenspace is so important as insects like bees thrive there because there are no pesticides. Sites like allotments, even cemetaries.

  6. Mealer says:

    It’s good to read an article on GM which avoids use of excessively emotive language.I note some of the information used in the article is seven years old.The world doesn’t need GM crops.Wars and bad government cause starvation.Crop prices are much the same as they were 20 years ago.They fluctuate a fair bit largely due to speculation by city brokers.Farmers and consumers have nothing to gain from this technology.Only global corporations will gain.How does TTIP affect the situation? The Scottish Government has taken a principled stance and so far it has been vindicated.It will be a lot tougher,though,to maintain their stance if GM does start producing yield increases because Scottish farmers wouldn’t be able to compete and there is no possibility to compensate them or ban imports as things currently stand.We’ll cross that bridge if,and it’s a big if,we ever come to it.

    1. John Craig says:

      your bad government comment strikes a chord with me. I had an Uncle who was a Professor of Agriculture or some such like. He spent twenty seven years in Sudan and admitted he had wasted his time. The raising of crops was a challenge, but a greater challenge was the culture of self serving. It was so deeply ingrained in the country from the top down, that any hope of setting up the mechanisms of a regulated industry were doomed. Government officials would quite happily see their countrymen starve if there was a bob or two in it for them.

    2. Mike says:

      “It will be a lot tougher,though,to maintain their stance if GM does start producing yield increases because Scottish farmers wouldn’t be able to compete and there is no possibility to compensate them or ban imports as things currently stand.We’ll cross that bridge if,and it’s a big if,we ever come to it.”

      No what it will mean is that Scottish Produce will become more unique and valuable as a result. People value the obscure more than the common. They start to call it a luxury.

  7. Chris Lamont says:

    So either 90% of scientists, including many that I respect and follow are wrong. Or this report is just cherry picking. Confused.

  8. Kangaroo says:

    The real reason for GM crops is to control the worlds food supply and ensure the USA is in control. See “The Globalisation of Poverty” by Prof Michell Chuddovsky @globalresearch.ca

  9. McBrierty says:

    tory and uk philosophy is to dash for cash and to hell with people or the environment.

    Any distance Scotland can place between itself from the tories you know it will be on the correct and ethical side of our people and our environmet.

    labour as always fall behind their unionist pals the tories and would have Scotland fracking, running down marine stocks and polluting our environment if it results in loser Union. Nuff said!

  10. Tony Rozga says:

    The world can solve the food problem/crisis without GM. Scotland needs to promote its food sector by keeping GM at arms length. The most effective way to do this, is to curb Agri-Business. Keep our farms smaller, family orientated and more numerous. This will project the image and style of food production which we need. This can only be done with land reform, everything comes back to the land issue. Our government need to be cautious when listening to the NFU, who strive for the massive Agri-Biz model. Perhaps Land Value Tax and tenant farmers right to buy their farms from absentee lairds would be a good start. Small family owned farms the length and breadth of Scotland and we needn’t worry about GM.

    1. John Craig says:

      Need to get rid of criminal inheritance tax on small family owned farms as a starter.

  11. Muscleguy says:

    Many of your objections and so called facts are faith based. Who determined that mutant cabbages: caulifower, broccoli, sprouts, curly kale were safe to eat? They contain genes changed from normal cabbage. If SM genes are dangerous then so must these be. if you wish to argue this line then this is where it must also go. EVERY single new variety of food, however produced must face the same hurdles GM crops do.

    ‘Conventional’ plant breeding includes irradiating plant cells and/or treating them with mutagenic chemicals that cause whole chromosomes to break apart and rejoin. Such processes in humans cause many genetic diseases. They are also uncontrolled. It’s like drilling a hole with a shotgun, maybe one of the pellets will make the hole you want and never mind all the others. GM is drilling a precise hole, of precise size angle and depth with a state of the art titanium tipped drill bit in comparison.

    Basically this policy is the SNP government saying: we don’t have the expertise not can we be bothered to assess every GM organism on its own merits and we also cannae be arsed to make the case to the public so we are not going to try. This policy is merely a smokescreen to cover all that up. It is government by washing the hands. But the world cannot be kept out so easily.

    When the next plant disease lays waste to the nation’s barley crop and the only solution is a GM variety what is the government going to do? See the whisky and brewing industries go to the wall?

    I’m a Biomedical scientist who understands these issues from the molecular to the organism level. I have built dna constructs and injected them in fertilised mouse eggs to make transgenic mice and analysed the results. I have assessed the phenotype of genetic changes in a number of mouse strains, both naturally occurring mutations and engineered changes. I am published in Nature doing exactly that. So the above is not some ignorant hot air.

    As for there being no public demand, nobody has either asked me or offered the chance to use my purchasing power to indicate it. When it was first introduced we bought flavrsavr tomato paste, because it was a better product. But threats against the supermarkets stocking it caused that choice to be taken away from me. Tell me, how do I register my willingness to consume GM produce to the Scottish Government? So how the hell do they know?

    1. Mike says:

      “I’m a Biomedical scientist who understands these issues from the molecular to the organism level”

      Which is why you post your views and opinions with the moniker “Muscleguy” and not your with your name to give it credibility.
      Im willing to bet that you post many opinions on many subjects online using the Im an expert in this field line. Many trolls do that.

      1. Chris Lamont says:

        Mike, your reasoning and arguments are killing me. You are doing a good job of visiting every fallacy in the book.

        1. Mike says:

          Other peoples fallacies in their arguments not in mine.

      2. John Craig says:

        Musselguy is probably nearer the mark. Aquaculture is massively investing in GM, but as a big and established earner it’s escaping the ban. Anton’s “gesture politics” observation does hold some credence.

        1. Mike says:

          In what way does somebody mimicking a Corporate promotional argument while trying to present it as their own give credence to the argument?

          1. John Craig says:

            Credence to “gesture politics” part of his argument only Mike. If my observations on the existence of GM in Aquaculture are correct, (to be resumed) it would if nothing else suggest a singular degree of naivety on their ( the Scottish Government’s) part. This would be in keeping with other legislation I take issue with which shows the same lack of application. Personally, still very much opposed to levels of intervention in nature we see today.

          2. Mike says:

            “Gesture politics” ONLY occurs when there is a clear advantage to be gained from it and its only “Gesture politics” when the promise isn’t followed up by the action. The SNP has been accused of “Gesture politics” for every social democratic move they’ve ever made only sometimes its called “Populous”
            I suppose you would label the release of Megrahi as “gesture politics” as well? Council tax freezing? How about abolishing tuition fees? Opposing austerity? Abolishing bridge tolls? Supporting public service over privatisation?

            Sometimes the “Gesture” is motivated by the belief that its right and its done because its the right thing to do. That will probably explain how the SNP has been in Government for 8 years and is increasing in support not losing it as a result.

          3. John Craig says:

            I didn’t accuse the government of indulging in gesture politics on the grand scale. The release of Megrahi on compassionate grounds was one of the finer things they have done; compassion sadly lacking in the so-called civilised people who bayed for his on going incarceration. As for the rest, I have little to beef about, but surely I am allowed the odd twinge of disappointment with their judgement.

          4. Mike says:

            We all are but why don’t you wait and save if for a time when you actually have a genuine reason to complain? instead of indulging in the present oppositions favourite pastime of complaining without cause.

    2. Me Bungo Pony says:

      I’m also a Biomedical Scientist Muscleguy and know that any “transgenic” creature you create is strictly controlled and has to be destroyed as soon as it has served its purpose. It has no contact with the natural environment and cannot pass it genes to that environment. There are very good reasons for that.

      Once transgenic organisms are introduced into the environment they are there for eternity. For good or ill. There are no economic or social advantages to them. Why, then, take the risk?

  12. Mike says:


    “Many of your objections and so called facts are faith based”

    Your objections to the objections are either faith based or agenda driven. You have no more clue as to the overall effect of GM technology as anybody else does but your willing to take the science and assurances of the industry motivated by massive profit at face value.
    The SNP has taken the correct and ONLY stance on the subject based on the lack of viable credibility and massive series of doubts expressed by experts and science. They have decided to protect Scotlands present positive reputation in the field of food produce rather than risk it on a huge unknown and highly controversial science.
    That’s not something anybody should be critical of unless they themselves are motivated to promote this industry because they are personally agenda driven to do so. I.e part of the overall lobbying process of the industry.
    I don’t want to unknowningly be experimented on by being forced fed GM produce. If there is any doubt at all If the science is not fully conclusive then it has no right to be introduced into the mainstream consumer market on the say so of an industry purely motivated on profit and profit alone!

  13. John Flanagan says:

    Good news. All they have to do now is ban Aspartame, and stop spraying our skies.

    1. Mike says:

      In what practical way can the SNP ban Aspartame from Scotland?

      1. John Flanagan says:

        Well considering it hasn’t been passed safe for human consumption. And was actually banned in the first place, until the corrupt FDA got a back hander. How the SNP ban it I don’t know. All I know is it shouldn’t be in the food chain. Just like the rest of Monsantos products.

        1. Mike says:

          So why did you suggest the SNP ban it from Scotland when you knew before hand there was no way for them to even make the attempt? You introduced a nonsense argument in place of a real one. Do that often?

          1. John Flanagan says:

            Well excuse me for wanting a product banned which is not fit for human consumption. Why can’t the SNP ban it? Did somebody mention troll?

          2. Mike says:

            “Why can’t the SNP ban it?”


            “How the SNP ban it I don’t know.”

            You answered your own question before you even asked it.

            So desperate to make an anti SNP post instead of dealing with the issue you turn your comments into nonsense.

            Now that’s a troll.

          3. John Flanagan says:

            Sorry Mike but I think you are walking about with your head up your arse. A fucking simple question how does any political party ban any substance that is not fit for human consumption. And how is wanting aspartame banned anti SNP

  14. Anton says:

    This issue is not black and white, as some seem to think, and the Scottish Government’s position seems to have more than a whiff of gesture politics about it.

    First, because the ban is entirely symbolic – the only GM crop approved for commercial sale in Europe is insect-resistant maize which is not suited to Scottish conditions.

    Second, because Scotland is a world leader in developing GM crops – with the whole-hearted support of the Scottish Government, which remains committed to developing GM crops.

    And third, because Scotland already imports a great deal of GM products without, apparently, any reservations – for example, about half the world’s cotton is genetically modified, but I see no calls for the sale of T-shirts to be banned.

    1. Mike says:

      “This issue is not black and white, as some seem to think”

      It seems to be black and white in terms of SNP bad again. Scotland is NOT a world leader in developing GM crops what a dishonest thing to say.
      And Like I asked the other anti SNP troll how is the SNP supposed to ban tee shirts from Scotland or any other form of already established and integrated dodgy substances from Scotland while a UK Government allows them at UK level across the UK?

      1. Ian says:

        “Scotland is NOT a world leader in developing GM crops what a dishonest thing to say.”

        Tell that to The Roslin Institute, The James Hutton Institute, SRUC, MRS, etc.

        1. Mike says:

          Why? They would only confirm what I just posted. What good would that do you?

          1. Ian says:

            Mike, your ignorance of biotech is astounding. But it’s good to see that you don’t let your ignorance get in the way of having an opinion. Well done you.

            “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”
            Isaac Asimov

          2. Mike says:

            Don’t need a degree in biotech to recognise an online fraud and tainted corporate promotion on a controversial subject. Your views are coloured and warped by your need to promote the subject mine aint.
            That actually gives me more credibility than you. I don’t have an axe to grind with GM but like the nuclear industry the tobacco industry and every other corporate profit driven corruption we have to endure I insist on having all doubts nullified before Im subjected to the product and not have the subject presented in a false light by paid promotional stooges.
            Is that too much to ask?

  15. Ian says:

    It’s a disappointing anti-science, anti-intellectual decision that isn’t backed up by the evidence (there’s lots of misinformation being spread though which is frightening people unnecessarily). It seems an easy decision to make now because there are currently no licensed GM crops that are relevant to Scottish agriculture. However, it is directly harmful to our Biotech industry and research. In the longer term a blanket ban on GMOs will need to be reviewed when new crop plants that are relevant become available or far from helping our farmers we will be hindering their competitiveness.

    1. Mike says:

      Oh ok as long as farmers can be competitive we can risk peoples health?
      And the Scottish Governments decision IS based on science and massive levels of consultation inclusive of the GM industry itself. One thing the Scottish Government does really well is consultation. Ask the people of Scotland. We also have a ban on fracking until the Scottish Government completes its consultation process on the subject and assures itself one way or the other before it makes its final decision on the subject and the only people who can object to this process are those being paid to promote the industry motivated by quick in out profit.

      1. Ian says:

        There is no risk to anybody’s health. We have been growing crops with modified DNA (modified by bombarding the plants with radiation such as gamma rays or x-rays, or in some cases by using mutagenic chemicals) since the 1930s. There are over 3000 registered plant varieties produced by this method of which well over 1000 are in widespread use. Many of them are now considered ‘traditional’ or ‘heritage’ varieties. The only difference between that technology and what we now call GM is that now can alter the DNA of a single gene in a controlled and well understood manner. If anything, it’s safer.

        As to “Scotland is not suited to this type of (mass volume) production”… Scotland is ideally suited to mass volume production – the piece of land which holds the world record for being the most productive is a potato field in East Lothian.

        The ban is not supported by anybody in agricultural research. The only stakeholders Sctogov could cite as suppiorting it were Friends of the Earth (I gave up my membership years ago) and The Soil Association (there is no benefit to health from eating organic food).

        1. Mike says:

          No risk to anybodies health? In spite of the exponential rise in obesity and all the problems it brings with it? Seriously? You think its all a coincidence that the rise coincides with the technologies which go into mass producing food products and consumables?

          1. Ian says:

            There is no link between GM food and the rise in obesity.
            Nor is it linked to Autism, BSE or anything else you want to make up.

            There is a remarkable correlation between sales of organic food and obesity. And between sales of bottles water and obesity. Those are about as plausible as linking GM to obesity.

            It’s clear that you’re not interested in evidence; GM is new and you don’t understand it so you’re scared.

            You’re not scared of technology that you grew up with because, well… you grew up with it so it’s ‘normal’.

          2. Mike says:

            So there is no link to eating todays mass produced tampered food and obesity? Oh so your not linked to the industry and just another voice paid to promote it then?

  16. Tony Rozga says:

    I don’t think Scotland can consider being a major player in the biotech crop industry, so use of GM developed crops is not essential. Quality food with a really clean image, beef, lamb, dairy/cheese, malting barley, soft fruits and seed potatoes. And grown by farming families, we need to squeeze out th NFU mentality that Agri-Biz Scotland can contribute to solving the global food shortage. Scotland is not suited to this type(mass volume)of production and neither is there a need, globally for more food.

    1. Ian says:

      “Scotland is not suited to this type(mass volume)of production and neither is there a need, globally for more food.”

      The piece of agricultural land which holds the record for the most productive land in the world is a potato field in East Lothian. Our farming industry is one of the best in the world and achieved that by embracing new technologies (many of the varieties we grow now were developed using more primitive and less controlled methods of DNA manipulation than GM). We should be proud of that, not embarassed by it.

      “Quality food with a really clean image, beef, lamb, dairy/cheese, malting barley, soft fruits and seed potatoes.”
      Many of which were produced by techniques of DNA manipulation, the only difference is that now the techniques have improved. We no longer need to bombard plants with radiation or mutagenic chemicals to bring about random and uncontrolled changes to their DNA. Ironically,w e have just banned the better technology, just as varieties produced by uncontrolled DNA manipulation are becoming heritage varieties.

      This decision was made (partly) because there are currently no approved varieties of GM crop relevant to Scotland’s farming. But there will be and if this ban remains in place our agriculture will become uncompetitive – faced with a choice of cheaper imported goods people will choose those in preference and our agriculture will suffer (as will the people of Scotland – it would be better to grow our food here rather than import it).

  17. tickle says:

    //science-based decision making cannot replace the will of the people.//

    this seems like an odd sentence

  18. Mike says:

    Mike, your ignorance of biotech is astounding. But it’s good to see that you don’t let your ignorance get in the way of having an opinion. Well done you.

    “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”
    Isaac Asimov

    Ignorance is leaving out the right to reply. Running away?

    Nice quote How about There is nothing more obscene and corrupt than somebody paid to lie.

    1. John Craig says:

      “I know I’m of superior intellect by the way people describe me. They call me a fucking know all.”

      John Craig

      What’s so great about intellectual achievement if it is couched in arrogance. Maybe we should have a wee corner where those of superior I.Q. can discuss the matter in hand and come to a learned conclusion. The Prols can then dip into it for the right answer and save all their time wasted in pointless discussion.

    2. Mike says:

      Everybodies knowledge of bio tech is astonishing especially the ignorance of those involved in the industry! If their knowledge was complete there would be no controversy!
      You cannot counter the controversy because your knowledge in incomplete and based on ignorance!
      If the industry actually knew and were absolutely certain of their claims they could destroy the controversy with ease! Your problem is the fact that you cant! That’s the problem that’s the key!
      Everything you claim is faith based! Trust us you say! In spite of us being purely and ONLY motivated by profit!
      Give me a break!

  19. john young says:

    Whether you are a scientist”who if they don,t know will just make it up anyway” or a scientologist you tamper with nature then you are truly asking for trouble,the evidence is their for all to see past and present for every good scientific discovery there arte 100 seriously bad ones.

  20. Anton says:

    Mike: I’m sorry that you want to deny Scotland’s achievements in crop science. According to the Scottish Government, this is “an important income earner for Scotland. An independent study concluded that crop scientists and breeders at JHI and MRS alone generate around £160 million of business for the Scottish and UK economies every year. This represents a 14:1 return on public investment.” Presumably this is why Holyrood has been unambiguous in exempting research from this ban, stating formally that these changes will not “affect research as it is currently carried out in Scotland, where the contained use of GM plants is permitted for scientific purposes”.

    Nor, incidentally, did I suggest that the SNP (by which I suppose you mean the Scottish Government) should ban the sale of T-shirts. Why do you say I did? My general point was that those who claim that the products of GM crops are to be abhorred seem unconcerned by their extensive acceptance in Scotland.

    Personally I’m wary of rushing to any conclusions about GM crops. As I said, it’s not black and white, which you seem to think is an attack on the SNP though I can’t think why.

    Oh, and calling me a troll is not an argument, it’s merely an insult.

    1. Mike says:

      You measure achievement in terms of profit margins which is why nobody trusts your claims in the first place. People like me get the impression that people like you will claim anything in order to “achieve” profit. And you wonder why there is controversy?
      The “Achievement” of the Scottish food industry is not based on profit but reputation! A reputation at risk with the introduction of a “CONTROVERSIAL” UNPROVEN science based on a drive for the “Achievement” of quick profit and not reputation.
      If Scotland wanted to base its “Achievement” in the food industry purely based on profit margins we would adopt fast food as our greatest culinary “Achievement”

      1. Anton says:

        Sigh. You say that I “measure achievement in terms of profit margins which is why nobody trusts your claims in the first place”. No, I’m pointing out that this argument is made by the SNP and the Scottish Government. You are entirely within your rights to mistrust the SNP’s claims on this matter if you wish. Though given that I trust the SNP’s analysis and you don’t, I’m not sure how that makes me an anti-SNP troll. Isn’t that your position rather than mine?

        1. Mike says:

          “Sigh. You say that I “measure achievement in terms of profit margins which is why nobody trusts your claims in the first place”. No, I’m pointing out that this argument is made by the SNP”

          No Anton that’s your post up there not the SNPs!

          You didn’t quote any member of the SNP you made your own point you dug your own grave and exposed your only motivation. You’re clearly not interested in facts because you wont even take credit for your own arguments.

  21. Tony Rozga says:

    Ian, I think you have misunderstood the point I was making. I have never doubted my counties ability to grow food, and your stat about potato yield says nothing about overall tonnage which a country can produce in terms of acres sown.
    Do you think we can adopt GM, become self sufficient in food and resist imports?

    1. Ian says:

      We can never be truly self sufficient in food terms because we don’t grow everything that people want to eat – whether our food exports can negate our imports I couldn’t say. Either way; food production is important to our economy, both in terms of exports and in terms of reducing our need for imports.

      There have been waves of crop improvements dating back at least to the 16th Century (arguably dating back 10,000 years) – the last one was mutation breeding in the 20th Century. Each time Scottish farmers have embraced new varieties and been involved in their development. This time we have excluded ourselves for no good reason. Inevitably that will make our farmers less competitive and their products will start to look expensive beside imported goods. There’s no need to disadvantage them in this way.

      Meantime, The Scottish Government think organisations like SRUC, JHI, MRS, etc. can be involved in the development of new varieties whilst being hamstrung by being in a country that will never grow the varieties they produce. It’s unrealistic.

      We’re deliberately thwarting our farmers and biotech industry in order to win a few vote from those who don’t understand technology.

      1. Mike says:

        Ian the fact that you have to argue at all is the weakness in your case! Youre the one who has to convince us of your case and clearly the case has failed to convince! Your science is unproven! That’s the case for the opposition! The fact that there is controversy at all is your failure! Not mine!

  22. Ian says:

    Mike, you’ve sunk to the level of someone who knows they’ve lost an argument.

    “paid promotional stooges” and “somebody paid to lie”, really? Pretending your opponent is paid to argue against you is dishonest and weak. Alternatively, if you cannot see that someone might disagree with you for any reason other than money then there is no point debating you because your opinions are truly worthless.

    As for “So there is no link to eating todays mass produced tampered food and obesity?” – our food has been mass produced for centuries. There is no link between obesity and farming techniques. There certainly are links between processed food with poor nutritional qualities but that has nothing to do with GM. You can make junk food from organic produce if you wish to do so – it has been repeatedly shown that organic food has no nutritional benefit over conventional crops. In fact GM crops, in some cases have been deliberately designed for their enhanced nutrition.

    Stop the insults, find out what GM actually is and if you still want to once you understand – attempt to defend this policy on its merits. You are dismally failing to do so at present by hurling insults and displaying your ignorance.

    1. John Craig says:

      A wee bit off topic at this point Ian as no reply function was available on our last comment. I did read your initial article ( no mean feat for me)and took quite a lot from it as I have from most of what you have written. Ultimately, there is a deep and in some cases totally understandable distrust of science ( “smoking is good for you”, “stand in front of this atomic bomb blast” type of utterances remain deep in the psyche). This comes from the very basic question of whose scientist are you. It may be frustrating for you being on sure ground with your in depth knowledge that you can’t appease the doubts of others as to your motivation. That just makes you as much a victim of doubts instilled by unscrupulous people in both industry and government as the people you try to convince.
      As to our previous exchanges, it would be impossible to deny the existence of GM experimentation which has been going on internationally for many years in aquaculture. To what extent it will be or is being promoted still remains to be seen. The industry is in trouble on a variety of fronts and the mass introduction of Goldsinny Wrasse with all the problems entailed looks like another act of desperation as they are not a fish of any note in Scottish waters. I will close on this aspect of the debate with a thank you to you, but will hold my reservations ,
      regards, John.

  23. Mike says:

    I will tell you what I understand. I understand that the arguments you put forward are not your own but the arguments of the industry. You are the voice of somebody elses opinions.
    Or are you going to tell me those arguments you put forward are your own? Really?
    Do I sound like Im voicing somebody elses opinions? Do I sound like Im quoting somebody elses science?

    1. Ian says:

      That’s quite funny coming from someone who just cut n pasted another author’s article onto his website.

      1. Mike says:

        That’s really funny because I didn’t! Lose the plot altogether. Now that’s the way to lose an argument.

    2. Dair says:

      “Do I sound like Im quoting somebody elses science?”

      What does that even mean?

      1. Mike says:

        If you cant tell then you shouldn’t be on here trying to pretend you can contribute.

  24. Broadbield says:

    I voted Yes, I garden organically and when I farmed it was low input, working towards organic methods and I’m not particularly in favour of GM food, but this is one of the worst, (almost anti-scientific) articles I’ve read on Bella – particularly the replies from Mike who seems to want to insult anyone who disagrees. There’s a much better article in Wikipedia, but it takes some reading.

    As a little experiment let’s substitute Independence for GM Crops in the article: the precautionary principle suggests I should have voted No; Independence will not make us better off; Independence has not been shown to be safe; Independence will be a long-term economic disaster for Scotland; we can’t trust a Scottish Government – we might even elect a reactionary right-wing one. Furthermore, all the experts, Darling, Brown, Cameron, Osborne, McPherson, Carnie, and a host of public figures tell me we are too small, too poor and too stupid to be independent and I don’t really understand the economic “science” so next time I better vote No just to be safe.

    On this latter point, many people, including “experts” don’t understand the science, especially when probability is concerned. Reason 6 is nonsense. It is impossible to prove a food is safe.

    1. Mike says:

      Wow! Now that’s what a fraud looks like online. They always start with “I’m on your side” “BUT”

      “Independence has not been shown to be safe;”

      To show how utterly ludicrous this idiotic attempt at trying to make a point is I only have to point out myself that National self determination and Independence is the Norm for nearly 200 Nation States on the planet while Devolution is not working anywhere! and is not embraced by anybody and hasn’t been since historic records were written in Latin.

      National Independence is a proven Science while Devolution has proven to be a failure!

      Another attribute of the fake troll is their utter stupidity.

  25. Broadbield says:

    Thanks for proving my point about your comments.

    1. Mike says:

      Is that what you were doing? And here was me thinking you were trying to pretend you had a point to make on the subject of the blog.

  26. Karl Popper says:

    “Despite the promises, GM has not increased the yield potential of any commercialised crops.[4] ”

    and your evidence for this is a single 13 year old report which itself advises caution because it is based on only 2 years of survey data, 1997 and 1998.

    or, we can look at a 1 year old meta-analysis of *147* studies that concludes:
    “On average, GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68%”



  27. William Hughes-Games says:

    Scotland is amazing. We were there last year to see the return of the beaver in the Tay Catchment. Scotland has wide riparian zones on all her major rivers, many many wind turbines and an ambition to have 100% renewable energy within a decade or two. If asked Kimar a hashif Scotland, the answer would have to be Gleva.

    1. John Craig says:

      Oh Dear!

  28. Ian says:

    It doesn’t look like ScotGov consulted very widely on this decision; they don’t seem to have asked The Biochemical Society, British Society of Plant Breeders, The Institute of Food Science and Technology, John Innes Centre, National Farmers Union National Institute of Agricultural Botany, National Institutes of Bioscience, Public Research and Regulation Initiative, Robert Gordon University, Royal Society of Edinburgh, Society for Applied Microbiology, Society for Experimental Biology, Science Council, Sense About Science, The Sainsbury Laboratory, UK Plant Science Federation, University of Dundee, University of Edinburgh or The Roslin Institute (amongst many others they didn’t consult).

    That’s good – because we don’t want them making an uninformed decision after a 6 day consultation period while the post of Chief Science Adviser is vacant, do we? That would just be foolish and ignorant.


    1. William Hughes-Games says:

      Even if GM was completely benign on all fronts (and it is not) it would still be worthwhile banning it from Scottish soil for economic reasons. There are so many people out there that don’t want to eat GM food that you gain a definite market advantage by outlawing it. You can’t be a little bit GM free. It is all or nothing in the eyes of the eating public.

      1. Mike says:

        How do you know they didn’t? Who else would these people lobby if not representatives of the Scottish Government?
        Are you actually saying the GM industry didn’t lobby the Scottish Government? Seriously?

  29. John Craig says:

    Not an “I told you so”, the subject matter is far too serious for any sort of feeble point scoring, but the US government have now issued licences to two Atlantic Salmon producers to put GM Salmon on the market. Bizarrely, although they are GM, these fish will not be required to be sold under a GM label. The fish show all the massive growth rate which has already been demonstrated in previous experiments in Scottish/Norwegian stocks and will undoubtedly put more conventional rearing methods at an acute disadvantage. How can the Scottish/Norwegian aquaculture industry compete against this rearing method when operating under NO to GM legislation, as it will be picked up by other major producers as a signal to seize their chance.

    1. Mike says:

      In what way will this put conventional rearing methods at a disadvantage if the fact that they are GM raised wont be included in the labelling?

      1. John Craig says:

        Straightforward economics here Mike. Bringing the fish from fry to saleable state in half the time, with substantial drop in feeding costs, risk of acquiring infection ( existing practice includes injection with antibiotics) and a broader window for removing fish from sites under threat from natural causes, without incurring total loss of revenue. Of that lot, the ability to rear fish with double the weight gain/ half the time makes for a very attractive option. Can’t imagine producers in Argentina will be too far behind in their demands for equal opportunity. As I mentioned earlier in this post, the homework has all been done and the Aquaculture industry has been under starters orders for quite a few years now. Existing practices are already tarnished, but acceptable in Scotland. Will Scottish Government’s stand on GM be put to an ultimate test?

        1. Mike says:

          No it doesn’t. A bottle neck will develop at the point where it is taken by the purchaser from the supermarket shelf or not.
          It doesn’t matter how fast you can produce a product if it doesn’t sell at the point of consumption just as fast or faster.
          People will still have the same choice it has at the supermarket shelf. Take product A or take product B. it wont matter if Product A has a lot more product rotting away in the back store room if there is always enough product B on the shelf to give the consumer the even choice.
          At that point the sales factor will depend on the quality of the product coupled with the price coupled with its reputation.

          Do you understand the obvious?

          1. Ian says:

            When product A is significantly cheaper (and largely indistinguishable in quality or reputation – it won’t be labelled as GM) people will choose that.
            This is effectively a very limited trial of GM salmon in very limited circumstances (they’re only being raised in 2 locations and in tanks on land so that fish cannot escape into the wild) so it’s far too soon for the current GM ban to be threatened (it’ll be 2 years before these fish make it to market in limited numbers). But obviously that’s what the the producers of these fish are hoping for – that after a small trial to increase regulators confidence in their safety, other countries will start to license them in less restricted circumstances and that the fish will prove to have a significant economic advantage. If and when that happens then fish farming in countries with a ban on GM may struggle to compete.

          2. Mike says:

            Ian If you don’t correctly label a product you wont be allowed to sell it at all and why will GM be automatically equal or better in quality? The fact that its GM removes any chance that it comes from quality to begin with. When you talk mass production short cutting and cost cutting you give up on quality because quality costs extra.

          3. John Craig says:

            “Obviously ” Mike there is little point in engaging in a discussion on this matter with you, as you are right. However I would recommend you spend some time researching Asperger’s Syndrome and making contact with fellow sufferers; then you can all be right together.

          4. Mike says:

            Or alternatively you can seek out reality. It really is out there and it doesn’t come with an agenda or a need to promote anything for anybody else.

          5. Ian says:


            “If you don’t correctly label a product you wont be allowed to sell it at all”
            There is no requirement to label GM ingredients here or in the US where GM salmon have just been licensed. The correct label for transgenic salmon is ‘salmon’, the correct label for triploid salmon (whether naturally occurring or artificially induced triploidy) is ‘salmon’, and the correct label for wild-type salmon is ‘salmon’. There is no suggestion
            that any body would incorrectly label anything.

            “and why will GM be automatically equal or better in quality?”
            I made no such assumption, however if it’s to be a successful product the GM salmon must have some property that makes it an appealing product, otherwise it will not be farmed (the same as any other product whether GM or not). In this case it’s much cheaper to produce because it grows faster. That’s not a difference in quality, but it is a property that both farmers and consumers want.

            “The fact that its GM removes any chance that it comes from quality to begin with.”
            You keep telling yourself that. The only inherent difference between GM/transgenic crops and non transgenic ones is how the original stock were bred. Differences in quality are down to individual varieties; some are good, some aren’t. That’s true of both GM and non-GM crops.

            “When you talk mass production short cutting and cost cutting you give up on quality because quality costs extra.”
            All farmed salmon is mass-produced (unless you know a small-scale fish farmer who lovingly hand-rears organic salmon? I don’t know if it’s still the case, but when I studied marine biology the biggest difference between Scottish and Norwegian salmon farming is that here it was mostly large companies, whereas in Norway it was mostly small farmers).
            I’m happy to discuss the difference between farmed and wild salmon but it’s pretty much irrelevant to the GM debate. Mass produced and GM are not equivalent terms, there are lots of mass-produced non-GM foods (most of what we eat and drink).

            The irony is, I’m not really disagreeing with you on this (but I know you like an argument and I’m happy to oblige because I do too). There’s no reason to worry about breaking the GM ban over salmon at this point; they’re 2 years away from market and longer than that before they start impacting the cost of farmed salmon (if they ever do). These fish have existed since 1995 – things often move slowly in the world of food and agriculture regulations. There’s plenty of time to play out a cautious ‘wait and see’ policy (just as we should with fracking, but that’s a whole other debate).

          6. Mike says:

            So this “appealing factor” wont add to the cost then? Even though its supposed to give it quality? Where ever have you heard of NOT paying extra or more for quality?

            You’re talking about mass producing on top of mass producing. You talking about mass producing x2 speed and volume. That means x2 short cutting and cost cutting and therefore logically /2 quality!
            Something has to give.

            And if GM produce is being sold unlabeled or unidentified then a crime has been committed.

            No wonder nobody trusts GM and those who produce it.

          7. John Craig says:

            Mike’s logic that halving costs halves quality should tell you all you need to know. My interest in the latest events is in the future time line. The American facilities are, as you say, pretty well tied down, but with the vast amounts of money at stake here, I think it would be very un-wise to ignore human nature. A lot of the big names in aquaculture are based in countries where they don’t play cricket. The Japanese “whaling for research purposes” is as good an indicator of the future as any I can think on. The ambiguity as regards the labelling/non-labelling of the new product is I believe of little concern in the marketing to consumers in the far east. With the foregoing in mind I believe we will see an outbreak of un-scrupulous production of GM salmon which will beggar those who go by the book. As you say, this “doomsday scenario” is(theoretically) a couple of years away, but the industry has had this highly desirable prospect up it’s sleeve for many years; it was never going to stay corked in the bottle.

          8. Ian says:

            I’m beginning to wonder what you’re on about Mike.

            The only ‘quality’ (property would be a better term) these salmon are claimed to have is their ability to grow faster (as all domesticated plants and animals have been bred to do compared to their wild counterparts).

            There is no law requiring GM produce to have any labelling stating that it is GM (as I’ve already explained). Selling GM produce without a GM label is not a crime. Such a requirement would require a definition of “GM”; care to provide one?

            I’m talking about further development of fish farming in the same way that land-based agriculture as been improved; by replacing plants and animals identical to those removed from the wild with ones which have been bred for purpose.

            Which organisms do you eat which are identical to their wild equivalents?

  30. Wul says:

    The very idea of patenting a living organism is deeply repellant on a gut level.

    The sole purpose of GM food is to make vast, unearned income for shareholders in large biotech companies. They don’t give a monkey’s about me, you, starving people or farmers.

    “Musleguy” said: “When the next plant disease lays waste to the nation’s barley crop and the only solution is a GM variety what is the government going to do?”

    Well, I know what the company holding the patent will do. They will screw us hard so that we become dependant on their product and give them a source of income for all time, to the detriment of our citizens.
    That’s their model. “Hey, it’s just business folks, get used to it”.

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