August 13, 2008
The widespread use and development of genetically modified crops could lead to “the biggest disaster environmentally of all time,” Prince Charles said Wednesday in an interview with a British newspaper.
New experiments with GM crops could worsen food-supply problems, the heir to the British throne told the Daily Telegraph.
“What we should be talking about is food security, not food production – that is what matters, and that is what people will not understand,” he said.
“And if they think it’s somehow going to work because they are going to have one form of clever genetic engineering after another, then again, count me out, because that will be guaranteed to cause the biggest disaster environmentally of all time.”
The prince, who owns his own organic farm, has been a long-time opponent of genetically modified crops, but his comments are among his strongest yet on the subject.
His views put him at odds with the British government, which has said GM crops could boost agricultural production and lower steadily rising food prices.
The World Food Programme, a UN agency, said Tuesday that almost 1 billion poor people around the world are struggling to survive amid food prices that have doubled over the past three years, according to World Bank estimates.
Relying on “gigantic corporations” to provide food for the world could lead to unsustainable demand on irrigation systems, have detrimental effects on farmland and push out small farmers, Charles said.
The 59-year-old held up India as an example of a country where the push to produce GM crops caused agricultural and environmental problems.
“I have been to the Punjab, where you have seen the disasters that have taken place as result of the over-demand on irrigation because of the hybrid seeds and grains that have been produced, which demand huge amounts of water,” the prince said in the interview.
Charles insisted he was not trying to turn back the clock, saying “we have gone working against nature for too long.”
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