The UK's Environment Minister Michael Meacher has launched a scathing attack on genetically modified crops.

During an interview with the Ecologist magazine Meacher expressed his concerns about the consequences of using GM crops: "The real problem is whether ten, 20, 30 years down the track, serious and worrying things happen that none of us ever predicted. It's these sorts of totally unpredicted problems that make me very, very cautious."

"The human race has existed on this planet for about a quarter of a million years," Meacher was quoted as saying by BBC Online, "We have been feeding ourselves perfectly adequately since overcoming problems of hunger in our early existence. GM is not necessary."

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) distanced itself from Meacher's comments, saying they were "his views". DEFRA also admitted there was "creative tension" in the government on the GM issue, reported BBC Online.

In the interview Meacher also asked whether food companies could be trusted to give objective advice when the government has neither the money nor the manpower to conduct its own tests.