A prominent Member of the European Parliament has urged the European biotech industry to defend its processes and products more vigorously.

Speaking at a London food conference this week, Fine Gael MEP Avril Doyle alluded to the "politicisation of science" and a "culture of fear" and called particularly on biotech producers to "get out there and defend your products, as you appear to have gone to ground."

Doyle compared the widespread European disdain for GM foods with the situation in the US, where "consumers are not fearful," although she conceded that this was linked to the high levels of trust in the US Food and Drug Administration. Confidence in government authorities is lower in Europe, although it is said to be improving.

She challenged the industry over what she sees as apathy, saying: "Industry ran for cover the minute the activists got moving and started digging up field trials; you expected legislation somehow to sort it out for you, but you were wrong.

"You've failed to defend your biotech products, especially GM foods, in a language that ordinary people can take comfort from. Get out there, spend more money and convince consumers that your products are safe," Doyle concluded.