Richard Bramley, who sits on the National Farmers Union environment forum, praised the disruptive Extinction Rebellion protests in London for publicising global warming.
“I think it’s a good thing that awareness has been raised,” he said.
But he called on environmentalists to go further and “rethink their work and the things they’re against”.
Mr Bramley, whose 500-acre arable farm in North Yorkshire has suffered from both floods and drought in the past three years, believes more research into genetic modification will create crops that can better withstand extreme weather.
“It allows us to fast track breeding, and if there’s ever a time that we have to do things fast it’s today,” he said.
“They’re calling in London for a complete rethink of the way we live our lives… now let’s have the proper conversation, the open conversation, about what we can do.”
Tight EU rules on genetic modification mean none of the available GM crops are grown commercially in Britain, while GM food imports are restricted.
But the US is pushing for a relaxation of the regulations after Brexit as part of the anticipated US-UK trade deal.
Helen Browning, chief executive of organic trade body the Soil Association, believes genetic engineering has no place in our food chain.
“Our first job is to stop climate change happening, that means concentrating on the natural environment,” she said.
“If we are turning to GM crops as a way of trying to allow crops to grow in the dreadful conditions we have coming down the line then we are admitting failing.”
Author: Gerard Tubb