Edinburgh, Scotland—Scottish rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead announced genetically modified crops would be formally banned, saying that the move will help preserve Scotland’s “clean, green status.”

This decision follows up a previous ruling by the European Union earlier this year that allows member states and devolved administrations to restrict or ban the cultivation of genetically modified organisms within their territory. This decision includes the genetically modified maize previously approved by the EU, along with six other crops currently awaiting authorization.

In a statement, Lochhead said that “there is no evidence of significant demand for GM products by Scottish consumers and I am concerned that allowing GM crops to be grown in Scotland would damage our clean and green brand.” He also expressed concern that the presence of GMO crops would be gambling with the Scotland’s food and drink sector, currently valued at £18 billion, mentioning that food and drink producers in other countries were making the move to leave GMOs due to risk of “consumer backlash.”

Not all are pleased with this decision, though. Scott Walker, chief executive of farming union NFU Scotland, expressed disappointment in the decision, saying that “other countries are embracing biotechnology where appropriate and we should be open to doing the same here in Scotland.” According to a government spokesperson in a statement to The Guardian, this ban would not affect GM plants being used for research purposes “for example in laboratories or sealed glasshouse facilities.” Nine other EU countries are currently not in favor of GM crops, with Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, and Romania all having GMO bans on the books. Switzerland currently has a moratorium in place until 2017 against the commercial cultivation of GM crops and animals, following two extensions after its initial introduction in 2005.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, September 2015(online 8/11/15)