AN area of forests, jungle, natural habitat and bio-diversity the size of Italy is lost each year, mostly to food production and cattle ranching. Gene editing is the latest trick we clever humans are playing to enhance our use of arable land. “Why these GM foods must be clearly labelled” states Monday’s National.

I agree the public should be given a choice. However, I suggest that in the longer term this technique of genetic manipulation may create major problems. To survive, insects and bacteria mutate, adapt, and create more virulent strains to overcome their problem. How long before GM cropping faces the same situation?

READ MORE: University of St Andrews £13m research facility gets green light

In many ways the race between science and survival is speeding up. Rather than agriculture adopting “Precision Breeding”, it could be wiser for scientists and politicians to encourage organic production for the sake of the environment and our diet. “Scottish Enlightenment” has played a prominent role in the scientific world – which approach might best suit the thinking of an independent nation?

Iain R Thomson