In a preview of the wide-ranging interview heard by FoodManufacture.co.uk, the Princess Royal said: “If we are going to be better at providing food of the right value, then we have to accept genetic technology – whether you call it modification or anything else.”
While acknowledging opposition to GM, the Princess Royal added: “I do think, in the future, gene technology has got real benefits to offer – and maybe an occasional downside. But I suspect not very many.”
The Princess Royal was speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today and On Your Farm presenter Anna Hill. The presenter met the princess at Buckingham Palace to discuss food, farming and environmental opportunities in the next couple of years.
‘Genetic modification would be a bonus’
Farming in Gloucestershire, at her Gatcombe Estate the princess, who is a patron of many rural charities, said GM techniques could prove useful on her land. “I have rare breed livestock. So genetic modification would be a bonus, if I could just find a way of making them a little more robust in terms of survivability.”
But the princess acknowledged the challenges of GM. “How you define what is harmful or what is good seems to me to be rather more difficult. Most of us would argue we have been geneftically modifying food since man started to be agrarian. But everyone would say: ‘It doesn’t happen so quickly.’”
Ruling out the benefits of GM would be a mistake, she added. “And to say: ‘No, no, we must not go there’ [adopt GM technology] just in case, is probably a mistake.”
GM ‘would be a bonus’
“I have rare breed livestock. So genetic modification would be a bonus, if I could just find a way of making them a little more robust in terms of survivability.”
- Princess Royal
‘Is probably a mistake’
In addition to GM technology, the princess shared her views on other aspects of science and technology in farming, biofuels, farm support and the affordability of food.
The full interview with the Princess Royal will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today on Thursday March 23 at 5.45am.
Meanwhile, the princess has long supported GM technology, in contrast to her brother the Prince of Wales.
In 2014 the princess told the BBC’s Countryfile TV programme: “It's a serious business looking after the countryside and it's a much more serious business feeding people.
"I think it [GM] has a role to play, to be honest. I think the claims are probably slightly greater than most of the deliverables actually are. They do add to our ability to, perhaps, be more efficient users of the land.”
Prince Charles long supported organic agriculture and has criticised the food industry for its alleged drive towards cheaper food and higher profits.