Scotland plans to ban all genetically modified crops to preserve its ''beautiful, natural environment'', Scotland's rural affairs secretary, Richard Lochhead, has announced.
According to Lochhead there was no sign of ''significant demand'' for GM food.
He added that Scottish produce could command a premium because of its reputation for quality. However, the National Farmers Union of Scotland complained that farmers could end up at a competitive disadvantage.
Lochhead said, ''Scotland is known for our beautiful natural environment - and banning growing genetically modified crops will protect and further enhance our clean, green status.
''There is no evidence of significant demand for GM products by Scottish consumers and I am concerned that allowing GM crops to be grown in Scotland would damage our clean and green brand, thereby gambling with the future of our £14bn food and drink sector.
''Scottish food and drink is valued for its natural, high quality, which often attracts a premium price, and I have heard from food and drink producers in other countries that are ditching GM because of a consumer backlash.''
He added the Scottish Government planned to ask for an opt-out from any EU consents for GM crops. The EU's list of GM approved GM products, includes cottons, maizes, soya beans and sugar beet.
Scotland is utilising new EU rules that allow countries to opt out of EU-approved GM crops. ''The Scottish Government will shortly submit a request that Scotland is excluded from any European consents for the cultivation of GM crops, including the variety of genetically modified maize already approved and six other GM crops that are awaiting authorization,'' the Scottish Government said in a statement.
The new ban would not come in the way of ongoing research regarding GMOs taking place in Scotland, The Guardian reported.
Europe's approval system for genetically modified (GM) crops has not found favour in the UK, with many MPs calling the approvals "fundamentally flawed". (See: Europe's approval system for GM crops,''fundamentally flawed'', say UK's MPs)