Consumers in the UK will eventually accept the benefits of genetically modified (GM) food, claimed the president of the Food and Drink Federation, Iain Ferguson.
"Sooner or later we have to get the GM debate back on the table. We will have to deal with it in a way that gives the consumer the confidence to accept the technology," said Ferguson, who is also chief executive of Tate & Lyle.
Citing the greater acceptance of GM outside Europe, Ferguson said early attempts to introduce it into the UK had been "very poorly handled", and he feared that unless the benefits to consumers of other technologies, such as nutrigenomics, were clearly spelt out, they would suffer the same.
The problem with GM, said Ferguson, was that there were still difficulties in demonstrating consumer benefits. He suggested that climate change and the emerging debate about using agricultural land to grow biofuels would help, but some environmentalists were already marshalling their forces. In a speech last month, Peter Melchett, policy director of The Soil Association, criticised those arguing to convert more land for green energy crops.