"I remain unconvinced of the advantages of GM crops and I consider it prudent to prohibit their cultivation here for the foreseeable future," he said. "The pattern of land use here and the relatively small size of many agricultural holdings creates potential difficulties if we were to seek to keep GM and non-GM crops separate. I consider that the costs of doing so could potentially be significant and, in many cases, totally impractical.
"Further, we are rightly proud of our natural environment and rich biodiversity. We are perceived internationally to have a clean and green image. I am concerned that the growing of GM crops, which I acknowledge is controversial, could potentially damage that image."
The Ulster Farmers Union earlier described the European Commission's devolving of such powers as "very worrying". The Welsh Government, meanwhile, maintains what it describes as "a restrictive and precautionary approach" to GM crop cultivation, although the administration says it "keeps an open mind on future GM developments and plant-breeding technologies".