Prince and the 'Frankenstein' tomatoes

Click to follow
The Prince of Wales last night attacked genetically engineered food, as Britons prepared for their first taste of what have been dubbed "Frankenstein" tomatoes.

He said many saw genetic engineering as the most promising way forward for agriculturebut his heart sank at the prospect of some of the new crops being planned. "Am I really alone in feeling profoundly apprehensive about many of the early signals from this brave new world, and the confidence - bordering on arrogance - with which it is promoted? When I read that most of the genetically engineered species released so far in the USA have been billed as 'new crops for old herbicides' ... my heart sinks at the prospect."

Genetically engineered tomato puree will be stocked by British supermarkets from February; this is expected to open the floodgates to a range of novel food products. Scientists can transplant a gene from one crop or animal into another: they say it can have various benefits, including making food last longer.

The Prince, speaking at a dinner at Lancaster House before an international biodiversity conference today, also attacked the Common Agricultural Policy. Causes of loss of biodiversity could often be traced to public policies, and economic ones in particular, he said.

"The best, by which I mean worst, example is undoubtedly the Common Agricultural Policy. Within the European Union the public pay around pounds 30bn a year for production methods which have little or no respect for wildlife or landscape. Not surprisingly, the Minister of Agriculture's CAP Review Group has concluded that radical reform of the CAP is needed." New measures were urgently needed to tackle deterioration of the countryside as a whole. And the Prince urged Mankind to look after the range of life on Earth.

n The Prince will meet MPs from the three main parties to discuss his proposals for curing falling school standards, youth unemployment and the breakdown of Britain's social fabric. The meeting will help to boost the Prince's profile as his estranged wife steals the headlines in New York.