In the Guardian, the Tory Environment Secretary (who knew? The mind boggles) has given a speech suggesting that perhaps the UK should take a science-based approach to GE, rather than pandering to 'big-agriculture' conspiracy theorists. Sounds reasonable, you might think. Not so, says the president of the Soil Association:
But green campaigners said investment in organic farming would be a better bet for environmentally sustainable agriculture. Peter Melchett, policy director of the Soil Association, said: "We are concerned about the immediate prospects for organic food, as the organic market has moved back into growth. The prospects of the UK organic market increasing are being held back by the fact that UK organic farmers get the lowest level of financial support of any EU country."
EU subsidies directed towared organic farmers in other member states amount to £140 per hectare, but in England the figure is about £60 per hectare, according to Melchett. In countries including France, Germany, Italy and Sweden, the subsidy can rise to as much as £250 per hectare.
I think Mr Melchett needs a refresher on the meanings of the words 'investment' and 'subsidy.' Still, it's a thought for the Green Party in this country - we too could see rapid growth in organic farming if we subsidised it at hundreds of dollars per hectare...