Europe's approval system for GM crops,“fundamentally flawed“, say UK's MPs

Europe's approval system for genetically modified (GM) crops was "fundamentally flawed", according to UK MPs, BBC reported.

The process assumed GM plants posed greater risks than conventional plants, which was not supported by scientific evidence, the UK parliamentary science and technology committee said.

It called for regulation of GM on the basis of their characteristics not the method used to produce them.

According to opponents, GM might have an impact on wildlife and needed careful scrutiny.

In a recent move, EU countries agreed to grant individual nations more power to decide whether or not GM crops should be allowed to be grown on their territory.

However, according to the committee, there was a need for more radical reform to meet the challenge of feeding a growing population, using fewer resources, under a changing climate.

In their report, advanced genetic techniques for crop improvement - regulation, risk and precaution, MPs said inappropriate regulation could hinder or even halt agricultural innovations.

According to the committee's chairman, Andrew Miller, opposition to the genetically modified crops in many European countries was based on values and politics, not science.

He added, the scientific evidence was clear that crops developed using genetic modification posed no more risk to humans, animals or the environment than equivalent crops developed using more 'conventional' techniques.

Criticising the huge delays in decision-making the committee said, the way the EU's regulatory system worked meant member countries opposed to GM crops could stop them from being grown in other EU countries, Reuters reported.

"A regulatory system which can take decades to reach a decision cannot possibly be considered fit for purpose," Andrew Miller, the committee's chair, said in a statement.

The committee said in its report that research activity had shifted out of the EU due to stringent rules and put at risk the UK's chance to emerge as a global player in new agricultural technology.

"To meet the huge challenge of feeding a burgeoning global population, using fewer resources, as our climate becomes increasingly unstable, we will need to use all of the tools at our disposal, be they social, political, economic or technological," Miller said. "Regulatory reform is no longer merely an option, it is a necessity."