This week, a new peer-reviewed study has found non-GM farming in Europe outperforms GM farming in North America. Although reports had said that Paterson would advocate weaker regulation for GM, today he stated that he was not suggesting that European Union safeguards should be watered down, only that he wanted to "explore ways of getting the EU system working". However, proposals by government advisers to weaken the regulations are being developed by the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment. Its chairman Professor Chris Pollock discussed the plans with ministers last month.
The pipeline of GM crops awaiting approval in the EU, include GM herbicide-tolerant maize that might be grown in the United Kingdom. But such crops were abandoned following the results of the field-scale evaluations in 2004, which showed they would harm wildlife because of the effect of the blanket use of weedkillers. Scotland and Wales have anti-GM policies and if the crops were to be grown in England, this would be highly controversial. Consumers would ultimately pay the costs of segregating GM and non-GM food supplies and farmers would lose more lucrative non-GM conventional and organic markets, if their crops became contaminated with GM crops or seeds.