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UK.gov serves up GM food as price hike fix

Brown pushes Greens off plate while slamming food waste

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The government's former chief science adviser Sir David King has said genetically-modified crops represent our best chance for improving yields sufficiently to deal with current food price problems.

According to the FT, King said: "There is only one technology likely to deliver [the yield increases needed] and that is GM.... We need more crop per drop [of water] because of the fresh water problem. Unless you move into plant technologies to develop these crops, food provision is not going to increase."

"The future lies there [with GM]. And this is urgent."

The comments coincide with the publication of a Cabinet Office report, Food Matters: Towards a Strategy for the 21st Century, which also supports a softer line on GM production.

The Cabinet Office report said: "Further advances in science and technology are likely to impact on food production, potentially increasing yields and making food healthier and more environmentally sustainable." But the report also notes that no such crop is approved for commercial growing in the UK, and "public trust in the new technologies is a key issue".

The report also notes that British consumers waste a third of the food they buy - 6.7m tonnes. This costs the average family £420 a year and creates greenhouse gases equivalent to one car in five on British roads.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that although action was needed to improve food supplies UK households could help by reducing unnecessary demand, or wasted food. Brown is on his way the G8 meeting in Japan where he also predicted to call for a moratorium on the use of biofuels.

The report also predicts a growing role for nanotechnology and predicts non-edible nanotech - like coatings on packaging - is likely to be less contentious and will therefore grow quickly.

It said the move to biofuel was "creating a growing, inelastic source of demand for grain and oilseeds that will further tighten the global balance of supply and demand". It predicts grain prices will more closely follow oil prices in future. ®

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