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Nick Clegg disagrees with Environment Secretary on GM food

28 June 2013

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has publicly stated he does not support Environment Secretary, Rt Hon Owen Paterson, on the subject of genetically modified food. 

Only days after Mr Paterson said GM food was safe and affordable,  Mr Clegg said Britain should remain ‘cautious’.

The deputy Prime Minister said he had not ‘knowingly’ fed his children GM meals and acknowledged the issue is ‘very vexed’.

Speaking on LBC 97.3 Radio, Mr Clegg said: "I think what you have got to do on this very vexed issue is just always be led by the science. Be cautious, take cautious steps, don't obviously take risks, particularly where people have concerns about contamination between GM crops and non-GM crops. It is like a lot of these dilemmas, it is about getting the right balance.

"I take science based precautionary approach. I would never say 'no' forever to new technologies - I don't think we should do that in life generally - but you have got to approach it cautiously.”

The Environment Secretary is trying to persuade EU officials to lift current rules that only allow one type of GM maize to be grown in the UK. He also wants EU regulators to approve a long list of new GM crops, including herbicide-tolerant maize and sugar beet.

In his speech to an industry audience in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, Mr Paterson said he said he wanted people to be able to ‘walk into a supermarket and choose whether to buy local organic potatoes or those produced from a blight-resistant GM variety grown in the UK’.

The Prime Minister has said there is a ‘role’ for GM food, but his official spokesman last week declined to say eight times whether Mr Cameron would be prepared to eat them or considers them safe.

Today, the spokesman said: "The Prime Minister's view is that all food on shelves has to be safe. The scientific evidence must be examined properly."

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