30 June 2003 17:47 [Source: ICIS news]LONDON (CNI)--Clearer government strategies are required to exploit the scientific and commercial benefits of crop biotechnology in the UK, according to the British Crop Protection Council (BCPC).
In its "Biotech 2020" forum report, BCPC warned that failure to take a timely decision on future strategy threatens to erode the UK’s world-class position in plant science, adding that Britain could miss out on this innovation as it did with the “electronics revolution”.
The forum report also noted that there are strong parallels between the debate on genetically modified (GM) crops and the current deliberations on whether the UK should join the euro.
Hugh Oliver-Bellasis, president of BCPC, commented: “Strategic decisions are needed very soon if we are to secure the future of a first-rate, pure and applied plant science base that will enable the UK to continue to contribute to an appropriately regulated development of the technology. We cannot delay if we want to participate successfully in future European and global biotechnology markets.
“The train has not yet left the station, but the guard is putting the whistle to his mouth and some of the doors are being slammed.”
The report noted that both the US and China are actively embracing plant biotechnology, whereas the UK and Europe run a serious risk of loosing long-term competitiveness, despite the potential that the European Union (EU) accession countries will bring to crop production in Europe.
The report also argued that public acceptance is vital and scientists must improve their ability to communicate on the subject.
It acknowledged that plant biotechnology could make a significant contribution to sustainable world food production as well as offering exciting new ways of using plants to capture the sun’s energy. This could provide for renewable sources of energy and other valuable materials for society at large, said the report.
The forum, which was held at Elvetham Hall in Hampshire early this year, brought together over 50 independent experts and senior representatives from government, research organisations, academia, international institutions, industry and commerce. The forum report has just been published.
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