Three Green Party policies that would strangle EU growth

 
Guy Bentley
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The Green party of England and Wales has kicked off its campaign for May's European elections.

The party's leader Natalie Bennett launched the campaign with a pointed attack on Ukip:

As far as I can work out, Nigel Farage has entirely written it off so that Ukip has no policies at all. It seems to stand for getting out of the EU and stopping immigration and other than that he seems to have said, right, we have no policies.

The party has said it favours a referendum on EU membership but would campaign for the UK to stay in. So what is the Green Party proposing to entice British voters to support one the country's minor parties.

In short, the Green Party is offering a policy of retreat from globalisation and insulation from some of the newest innovations that could bring prosperity throughout Europe.

Here are three Green policies promising to hold the UK and Europe back from increasing growth and better competitiveness.

Fracking

The Green party is militantly against the UK's pursuit of shale gas. If the party had its way it would ban all fracking operations in the UK and even revoke some licenses that have already been issued for shale gas exploration. As recently as last week a study commissioned by the UK Onshore Operators group and carried out by EY found that 20m homes could be heated by shale gas.

Shale gas could supply a third of Britain's energy by 2032, with 4,000 wells across the country. A UK shale gas revolution could herald £33bn of investment across the supply chain and create 64,000 jobs, according to the research. However, the Green Party wishes the UK and the rest of Europe to forgo benefits such as these and exercise the most extreme policy of caution, based to a large extent on a series of myths surrounding the process of fracking.

Protectionism

Never keen fans of globalisation, the Greens have condemned the proposed transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Natalie Bennet has claimed the EU-US free trade deal "is a huge threat to hard-fought-standards for the quality and safety of our food, the sources of our energy and our privacy and risks undoing decades worth of EU progress on issues like worker’s rights."

In fact what the TTIP represents is win-win for both EU and US producers as well as consumers. Research carried out by the London-based Centre for Economic Policy Research entitled 'Reducing barriers to Transatlantic Trade', found the EU economy would benefit to the tune of €119bn a year – equivalent to an extra €545 for a family of four in the EU. The US could see gains of €95bn, with UK national income increasing by £4-10bn annually.

Anti-GM

The Greens are passionately opposed to genetically modified food, going so far as to advocate a European wide ban on GM food. Such a prohibition would be extremely harmful despite the EU's already appalling record on approving GM crops.

The claims that GM food is unsafe or that there is little scientific evidence to support its production should be treated with scepticism.

In 2013, a team of Italian scientists summarised the findings of 1783 studies on the safety and environmental impact of GM food. The researchers could not find one credible study that concluded GM food was harmful to either humans or animals.

The Green Party's opposition to GM is all the more troubling considering the recent innovations surrounding golden rice - a strain of modified rice created to prevent vitamin A deficiency.

Lack of Vitamin A is one of the most preventable causes of morbidity and mortality in poor countries with predominantly rice diets.

Agri-business Syngenta created a strain of golden rice that produced strong yields which could provide 60 per cent of a child’s vitamin A daily requirements from only 50 grams of rice. Considering that in 2013 between 170m to 230m children were vitamin-A deficient, opposition to Europe innovating and growing its GM sector is questionable at best.

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