First Minister Nicola Sturgeon extolled the importance of scientific advice in policy-making yet insisted her Government had no plans to overturn its ban on the growing of genetically modified (GM) crops.
The seemingly contradictory stance was laid bare at the NFU Scotland annual meeting in Glasgow earlier this week.
In response to a question on scientific research funding, Ms Sturgeon insisted that scientific advice was becoming increasingly relevant to how Government took decisions.
“So much more of what Government is doing on a day-to-day basis takes us into the realms of science and underlines the importance of scientific advice,” she said.
She added that science was particularly important for a sector like farming.
“What farmers are doing now and the methods they need to use in future are so driven by science and the development of science that it needs to be central. So you have our assurance to support the rural research industry but also support the importance of scientific underpinning in everything we do and the decisions we are taking.”
Ms Sturgeon argued that the decision to ban the growing of GM crops – despite scientists advising the technology is safe – was not a contradiction.
“There will be times when Government policy and scientific views don’t coincide, but it’s important to be informed and advised on scientific input,” she said.
“One of the key attributes of our food and drink sector is its quality, and part of that quality comes from our environmental attributes. Cultivating GM crops would compromise and threaten the quality our produce is seen for.
“Since we took that decision there have been in the region of 19 other countries who have also taken advantage of that opt-out.”