Christopher Haskins is the former Chairman of Northern Foods and Express Dairies. One of Tony Blair's closest advisors (and a Labour Party funder - gave £10,000 in 2001) he was made a Lord by Blair in 1998 and given a Government job as Blair's 'UK Rural Recovery co-ordinator' post foot-and-mouth in 2001. He is also Chairman of the Government's Better Regulation Task Force, a member of the New Deal Task Force, and a Trustee of DEMOS. He is a member of the CBI President's Council. He holds shares in Northern Foods that were worth £3.28 million in 1998. Northern Foods produce food under the brand names and own-label food for Sainsbury's, Tesco, Marks and Spencer and Asda. Express Dairies is the UK's largest supplier of milk to supermarkets.
Haskins is passionately pro-GM. He has repeatedly spoken out against retailers and manufacturers who have 'banned the use of GM ingredients in their products' - despite the fact that Northern Foods also removed GM ingredients from its products in response to demand from its customers.
On the future of food and farming, Haskins defines himself as an optimist, opposing 'the prophets of doom'. However, hes not averse to doom-mongering when it comes to organic agriculture. He said, 'A wholly organic world agricultural system would quickly lead to mass starvation' and 'economic and political collapse in much of the developing world'. The answer lies rather 'in genetic modification raising food outputs to spectacular heights'. Haskins presents no evidence in support of these claims and ignores evidence of, for example, yield drag rather than yield gain from GM crops.
He has made vehement attacks on GM critics like the Prince of Wales and on organic farming. He said, 'Let the heir to the throne enjoy his excellent if somewhat risky organic food' but 'Let my cattle enjoy their genetically modified soya' and 'let the poor, starving people of the world have access to safe, affordable food - which GM food will probably offer them.'