But government minister says science could help feed the hungry
Prince Charles has launched a searing attack on the multinational companies he says are behind the development of genetically modified (GM) food.
In an interview with national newspaper The Daily Telegraph, the heir to the throne said GM food represented a "gigantic experiment, I think, with nature and the whole of humanity, which has gone seriously wrong." He added: "Why else are we facing all these challenges, climate change and everything?"
The prince said relying on "gigantic corporations" for food would result in "absolute disaster. That would be the absolute destruction of everything … and the classic way of ensuring there is no food in the future. What we should be talking about is food security, not food production."
The prince's comments drew short shrift from the UK government, however, which has indicated its support for GM food. Also speaking to The Daily Telegraph, environment minister Phil Woolas said: "It's easy for those of us with plentiful food supplies to ignore the issue, but we have a responsibility to use science to help the less well off where we can. I'm asking to see the evidence. If it has been a disaster, then please provide the evidence."
GM technology is a divisive issue in the UK — even within the food industry itself. A spokesperson for the Food and Drink Federation, a trade body representing UK food manufacturers, said: "Modern biotechnology, including GM, offers enormous potential to improve the quality and quantity of the food supply.
"But the impact of this technology must be objectively assessed through scientific investigation."