Princess and the Pea: Genetically modified foods spark royal row

Princess Anne, The Princess Royal attends the Gatcombe Horse Trials
Max Mumby | Indigo | Getty Images

The Queen's daughter has caused division in the agriculture industry - and the Royal Family - after saying that genetically-modified (GM) crops could be beneficial and she would consider growing them herself.

Princess Anne said that modifying plants to help them to grow could provide a necessary solution to food shortages and a means of sustaining reasonable pricing.

"Surely, if we're going to be better at producing food levels of the right value, then we have to accept that genetic technology – whether you call it modification or anything else – is going to be part of that," the Princess told the BBC.

"To say 'no we mustn't go there just in case' is probably not a practical argument."

The Princess is a working farmer and patron of almost 50 organizations. She stated that she would consider growing them on her own land if permitted after Brexit, when the U.K. may no longer be subject to stringent EU rules which have divided the agriculture community.

However, her views appear to be at odds with her brother Prince Charles, who is an advocate of organic farming and has previously warned that GM crops could cause environmental disaster.

Speaking of food production companies' experimentation with GM crops in 2008, the Prince said: "If they (multi-national companies) think its somehow going to work because they are going to have one form of clever genetic engineering after another then again count me out, because that will be guaranteed to cause the biggest disaster environmentally of all time."

The Princess' comments also raised eyebrows with environmental organization Friends of the Earth, which said that herbicide-tolerant GM crops have led to a "crisis" in U.S. farming.

"GM crops are right now exacerbating the very worst impacts of industrial farming," said senior food and farming campaigner, Clare Oxborrow, in response to Princess Anne's remarks.

"Miracle crops that help tackle food security have been long promised, but have failed to materialise. These promises are now wearing thin.

"Instead of flogging this dead GM horse, we need vital research funding and political attention directed at proven, sustainable alternatives."

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