British resistance to genetically modified crops may have to be rethought in the light of food shortages and rising prices around the world, a Government minister has suggested.
Environment minister Phil Woolas said that "as a nation", the UK needs to ask itself whether GM can play a part in addressing the current crisis, which has seen food riots in several developing countries.
According to reports, Mr Woolas held talks on Wednesday with the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, an umbrella group formed in 2000 to promote the role of biotechnology in agriculture.
And he told The Independent: "There is a growing question of whether GM crops can help the developing world out of the current food price crisis.
"It is a question that we as a nation need to ask ourselves. The debate is already under way.
"Many people concerned about poverty in the developing world and the environment are wrestling with this issue."
The Government has already decided that there is no scientific case for a blanket ban on GM crops, but following heated public debate about so-called "Frankenstein foods" it made clear in 2004 that commercial planting would go ahead only on a case-by-case basis if it can be shown to be safe for humans and the environment.
There is no commercial cultivation of GM plants in the UK at present, and only one trial is under way, involving potatoes in Cambridgeshire.
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