There's a technology that could reduce hunger, poverty, and save vulnerable habitats. But we're not allowed to use it

Agricultural scientists have developed answers to some of the world's biggest problems - but restrictions imposed by the European Union mean that we can't use them.

Nobel peace prize winner Norman Borlaug said that "you can't build a peaceful world on empty stomachs and human misery". Genetically modified (GM) crops could be the answer to alleviating food scarcity.

Adapting existing crops can make them more resilient to adverse weather conditions and pests, and also boost yields.

There's a strong enviromental case as well. The Borlaug hypothesis states that increasing the productivity of agriculture on the best farmland can help control deforestation by reducing the demand for new farmland. So wider use of GM crops could protect some of the world's most vulnerable habitats and the species that reside there.

Today, the UK's secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, Owen Paterson, has called for the European Union to allow an insect-resistant maize developed by DuPont and Dow Chemical.

Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference, it's not the first time Paterson has called for the UK to adopt GM crops. He did the same back in June. If successful, the maize would be the first GM crop to be approved by the EU since 1998.

"Delays and blockages have been politically motivated rather than based on evidence," Paterson said.

So we've got a technology that's been used in the US, Spain and Argentina - over two trillion meals with GM ingredients have been consumed worldwide - but that can't reach a UK plate.