Princess Anne has said that she wishes to grow genetically modified crops on her estate after Brexit, she has also said that arguments against GM technology were “not practical”.
Her view on GM crops is in stark contrast to the view shared by her brother Prince Charles, he has long opposed all forms of GM food and has said that it will cause the “biggest disaster environmentally of all time.”
The Princess Royal is incredibly knowledgeable about farming, having farmed on her estate in Gloucestershire since the 1970s as well as acting as the patron of nearly 50 countryside organisations. Princess Anne has said that “gene technology has got real benefits to offer”.
Princess Anne, speaking with Radio 4’s Farming Today said that GM crops were “one of those things that divides people.”
She added: “But surely if we’re going to be better at producing food of the right value, then we have to accept that genetic technology-whether you call it modification or anything else- is going to be part of that.”
The Prince of Wales, on the other hand, is primarily experienced in the ways of farming and is a keen organic farmer having spoken out against GM. He acts as the Royal Patron of the Soil Association which campaigns against GM crops and GM ingredients in both human and animal food. Prince Charles has called GM crops the “seeds of disasters”, as well as saying that having “one form of clever genetic engineering after another then…will be guaranteed to cause the biggest disaster environmentally of all time”.
Some environmental groups are also opposed to GM crops.
Currently, GM farming is widely opposed across the EU, with just one GM crop commercially grown in the last 20 years. However, this may change following leaving the EU with farming minister George Eustice indicating that the government would re-examine its position on GM crops after the UK leaves the EU.
Outside of Europe, GM crops are widely grown and covered 180 million hectares in 2015. The US, Brazil and Argentina are the leading producers of GM crops. A 2012 study found that the use of pesticides could be decreased if crops were genetically modified to poison pests, this would have significant environmental benefits.
It is thought that rice enhanced with Vitamin A, referred to as “golden rice”, could save the lives of 670,000 children who die each year as a result of Vitamin A deficiency.