| Prince Charles Warns GM Crops Risk Causing the Biggest-ever Environmental Disaster |
August 13, 2008
The mass development of genetically modified crops risks causing the
world's worst environmental disaster, The Prince of Wales has warned.
In his most outspoken intervention on the issue of GM food, the
Prince said that multi-national companies were conducting an
experiment with nature which had gone "seriously wrong".
The Prince of Wales: 'If that is the future, count me out'
The Prince, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Telegraph, also
expressed the fear that food would run out because of the damage
being wreaked on the earth's soil by scientists' research.
He accused firms of conducting a "gigantic experiment I think with
nature and the whole of humanity which has gone seriously wrong."
"Why else are we facing all these challenges, climate
Relying on "gigantic corporations" for food, he said, would result
in "absolute disaster".
"That would be the absolute destruction of everything... and the
classic way of ensuring there is no food in the future," he said.
"What we should be talking about is food security not food
production - that is what matters and that is what people will not
"And if they think its 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."
Small farmers, in particular, would be the victims of "gigantic
corporations" taking over the mass production of food.
"I think it's heading for real disaster," he said.
"If they think this is the way to go....we [will] end up with
millions of small farmers all over the world being driven off their
land into unsustainable, unmanageable, degraded and dysfunctional
conurbations of unmentionable awfulness."
The Prince of Wales's forthright comments will reopen the whole
debate about GM food.
They will put him on a collision course with the international
scientific community and Downing Street - which has allowed 54 GM
crop trials in Britain since 2000.
His intervention comes at a critical time. There is intense pressure
for more GM products, not fewer, because of soaring food costs and
Many scientists believe GM research is the only way to guarantee
food for the world's growing population as the planet is affected by
They will be dismayed by such a high profile and controversial
contribution from the Prince of Wales at such a sensitive time.
The Prince will be braced for the biggest outpouring of criticism
from scientists since he accused genetic engineers of taking us into
"realms that belong to God and God alone" in an article in the Daily
Telegraph in 1998.
In the interview the Prince, who has an organic farm on his
Highgrove estate, held out the hope of the British agricultural
system encouraging more and more family run co-operative farms.
When challenged over whether he was trying to turn back the clock,
he said: "I think not. I'm terribly sorry. It's not going backwards.
It is actually recognising that we are with nature, not against it.
We have gone working against nature for too long."
The Prince of Wales cited the widespread environmental damage in
India caused by the rush to mass produce GM food.
"Look at India's Green Revolution. It worked for a short time but
now the price is being paid.
"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] water table has disappeared. They have huge problems with
water level, with pesticide problems, and complications which are
now coming home to roost.
"Look at western Australia. Huge salinisation problems. I have been
there. Seen it. Some of the excessive approaches to modern forms of
He said that the scientists were putting too much pressure on
"If you are not working with natural assistance you cause untold
problems. which become very expensive and very difficult to undo.
It places impossible burdens on nature and leads to accumulating
problems which become more difficult to sort out."
In a keynote speech last year the Prince of Wales warned that the
world faces a series of natural disasters within 18 months unless a
£15 billion action plan is agreed to save the world's rain forests.
He has set up his own rain forest project with 15 of the world's
largest companies, environmental and economic experts, to try to
find ways to stop their destruction.
Only two weeks ago British GM researchers lobbied ministers for
their crops to be kept in high-security facilities or in fields at
secret locations across the country to prevent them from being
attacked and destroyed.
They spoke out after protesters ripped up crops in one of only two
GM trials to be approved in Britain this year.
Scientists claim the repeated attacks on their trials are stifling
vital research to evaluate whether GM crops can reduce the cost and
environmental impact of farming and whether they will grow better in
harsh environments where droughts have devastated harvests.