First genetically modified crops to be planted in the UK

Posted Feb 20, 2015 by Tim Sandle
The European Union has slightly relaxed its laws to allow the growth of GM and the first commercial crops could be seen in the UK by 2017.
Representation of GMO corn
Representation of GMO corn
Video Screen Capture
In December 2014, Digital Journal reported that a new agreement in the European Union (EU) had been reached. This agreement allows genetically engineered crops to be approved without member-state votes. This represents a U-turn, as all member states previously needed to agree. The new policy will allow several foods, where genetically modified organisms were used, to enter the market.
A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. GMOs are the source of genetically modified foods. a common example of such a food is corn.
The change in policy has divided industry and environmentalists, and has left many consumers confused and uncertain. It is also a high-stakes issue. According to The Guardian, the average GM crop costs between $200 to $300 million to bring to market. This means that biotech companies will be anticipating potential returns that run into billions of dollars.
One concern of environmentalists is that cross-pollination from genetically modified crops can take place through seeds carried by the wind, animals, vehicles or people. However, scientists in favor, such as Adam Rutherford writing in The Observer newspaper, states that there is no evidence that genetically modified foods are bad for human health.
One of the first countries in the EU to see genetically modified crops is expected to be the U.K., with scientists, politicians and activists expect the first commercially cultivated GM crops to be planted in England in 2017, This is because of the current government policy which is in favor of the planting of foods created using methods of gene transfer. Any such crop that is planted must have first gained approval from the European Food Safety Authority.
The issue could spark disagreement within the U.K. The U.K. government (and de facto, the "English" government) is in favor, whereas the Scottish government is against the planting of genetically modified foods.
In related news, one concern with genetically modified organisms is that there is the risk of such organisms escaping into the environment and causing uncontrolled damage. To off-set this, two research groups recently proposed new bio-safety measures. These safety measures have been outlined on Digital Journal.