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UK environment minister admits breaking agreement with Scotland on GMOs

Posted: April 30, 2014 |   Comments

( The UK environment secretary, Owen Paterson, has admitted to breaking an agreement he made to inform European ministers of Scotland's opposition to genetically modified crops.

The Sunday Herald reported, "[Paterson] promised the Scottish environment minister, Paul Wheelhouse, that he would say that Scotland took a different view on GM from Westminster during important negotiations at the European Union's Environment Council in Brussels."

But Paterson then failed to bring up Scotland's position on GMOs, purportedly because he "used the wrong speaking notes."

While being questioned by Scottish Parliament Members, Paterson said it was "unfortunate" that he didn't uphold his agreement. He stated, "I talked to Paul beforehand, we agreed the speaking note and I have to confess I think I read the preceding one."

Paterson is an ardent supporter of GMOs and has been pushing for them to be fully embraced in Europe, saying that the continent would otherwise become "the museum of world farming." The Scottish government, meanwhile, is concerned about the environmental and economic impacts of GMOs and wants regional autonomy for countries to decide for themselves whether to grow them or not.

"This was the one thing that both the Scottish government and our counterparts in the Welsh Assembly government wanted raised, yet Mr Paterson didn't mention it," said Wheelhouse. "This makes a mockery of the claim that Scotland is properly represented in Brussels by Westminster."

"How can our ministers trust any UK government minister who says he will take their views into account but when it comes to crunch negotiations ignore their previous pledges?" he asked.

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