THE Prince of Wales' comprehensive rejection of genetically modified - GM - crops in an interview with Jeff Randall of the Daily Telegraph was powerful enough in print but the tape recording made by Mr Randall, which the BBC's Today programme broadcast, revealed a man in the grip of an obsessive passion. “Unsustainable, unmanageable, degraded and dysfunctional conurbations of unimaginable awfulness” was just one emotional description of a future “where there is no food”.

This time the British scientific community seems to have decided that Prince Charles's views must be challenged rather than, as in the past, tolerated as the outpourings of a well-meaning eccentric. There has been particularly strong criticism of his decision to link GM crops to climate change which was identified as a major problem decades before the first GM seeds were planted. “Luddite” was one of gentler descriptions of Prince Charles's resistance to change. He was accused of a lack of scientific understanding that would “condemn millions of people to starvation in areas like sub-Saharan Africa.”

My favourite put-down was this: “He wants to retain his vision of a rural idyll by telling the poor to eat organic cake while he pours wine into the fuel tank of his sports car.” Prince Charles has gone too far this time. By talking of a “guarantee” of environmental disaster from GM crops he has diminished his cause and his person. When he said in the interview, “If this is the future, count me out” many will have said - “Put that in writing, please.”


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