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GM opposition is 'wicked': minister
The Environment Secretary has hit out at "wicked" opponents of genetically modified (GM) crops.
In an interview with The Independent, Owen Paterson said members of the anti-GM lobby, which includes campaigners such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, were scuppering crucial nutrition programmes in the developing world.
Highlighting recent work by campaigners to sabotage a crop of "golden rice" - which is fortified to combat blindness and has the potential to save lives - Mr Paterson said opponents to GM were in fact risking lives.
The Tory MP told the newspaper: "It's just disgusting that little children are allowed to go blind and die because of a hang-up by a small number of people about this technology.
"I feel really strongly about it. I think what they do is absolutely wicked."
Speaking of the potential benefits of GM farming, he said: "There are 17 million farmers, farming 170 million hectares which is 12 per cent of the world's arable area, seven times the surface area of the UK (with GM) and no one has ever brought me a single case of a health problem."
Mr Paterson was echoing comments he made earlier in the summer when he said GM crops have the potential to improve the environment and save lives .
He claimed the intense scrutiny placed on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) would actually mean they are safer foods than those produced using conventional means.
The Environment Secretary said an area seven times the size of the UK was already being used for the cultivation of GM crops worldwide and there was "no substantiated case" of an adverse impact on health.
But opponents of GM methods say it contributes to intensive farming practices and pesticide use that are environmentally damaging and that it will not tackle problems facing agriculture or deliver secure food supplies for the world's growing population.
The only benefits are for the large agricultural businesses that develop and sell the technology, they claim.
Speaking in The Independent today, Mr Paterson also defended the Government's badger cull to prevent bovine TB, and criticised animal welfare groups such as the RSPCA that have opposed it.
"I cannot understand anyone wanting to tolerate this disgusting disease," he said.
His comments clash with anti-cull protesters and activists, such as Queen guitarist Brian May, who doubt the science behind the Government's plans.