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Tuesday, 11 June, 2002, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
Prince warns of GM crop 'threat'
Oil seed rape
Prince: "Emphasis" on GM research is dangerous
Prince Charles has called for GM research companies to be made liable for damage caused to the environment.

He warned that policymakers had their priorities wrong and said people should realise humans, wildlife and the land were inextricably linked.

The Prince said the emphasis seemed to be on backing GM crop research "which, regardless of any possible environmental threat, certainly pose an acute threat to organic farmers".

His criticisms came in a wide-ranging speech in the German city of Lubeck after accepting the 2002 Euronatur Award for his efforts to protect the environment.

The Prince discussed the threat of GM research on organic farming, depleting fish stocks in the North Sea and the use of "nasty" plastic corks in wine bottles.

Prince Charles at Lubeck airport, Germany
Prince Charles: 'Strange sense of priorities'
He is regarded as a pioneer of UK organic farming and has his own such farm at Highgrove.

He told the award ceremony that consumers were being denied choice by governments supporting GM crops over increasingly popular organic food - despite consumption growth of 15% a year.

He said the tragedy of reduced fish stocks in the North Sea was an example of paying a heavy price for indifference to the environment.

He lamented the stalling of discussions on improving the situation.

'Strange priorities'

"We have to do something about rectifying the problem, and it is here that I believe we are being absurdly unambitious.

"In fact, I sometimes think that, as a species, we have a strange sense of priorities," he said.

In the 20-minute speech, partly delivered in German, he poured scorn on those most critical of "so-called inefficient peasant-farming systems" and small, family, mixed farms across the world.

"(They are) the ones who most frequently take advantage of the very real benefits that they bring whenever they get away from their offices - the food, the wine, the villages, the atmosphere provided by an ancient sustainable landscape," he said.


The world is a better place because of the life-long service of the Prince of Wales

Prof Hartmut Vogtmann

Prince Charles also said the use of plastic stops for wine bottles had a big the impact on Spanish and Portuguese cork tree farmers.

"Quite why anyone should want to encounter a nasty, plastic plug in the neck of a wine bottle is beyond me," he said.

The Euronatur award, a private organisation which protects the environment against expanding European economies, rewarded Prince Charles' work to preserve natural landscapes and organic farming.

Prof Hartmut Vogtmann, president of the German Federal Agency for Natural Protection, said: "The world is a better place because of the life-long service of the Prince of Wales."

See also:

12 Mar 02 | Scotland
09 Sep 01 | Science/Nature
02 Jun 99 | Science/Nature
20 Aug 99 | UK
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