A JOKE t-shirt reads 'I don't need Google, my wife/husband knows everything'.

That sums up the view of the European Commission towards science. It is committed to the precautionary principle, led by agriculture and food. This means that if suspicions are raised it is better to ban and then investigate. This reflects a caution not to repeat past mistakes, but it has created a culture close to being anti-science.

This contrasts with most other countries that seek to embrace technology and progress.

This does not make the EU wrong in its judgements, if it sees its first duty as meeting the wishes of its citizens. They are generally happy with this stance, but it is a mix of cause and effect. Because the EU demonises science in many areas, people are influenced to believe that is the correct approach. This reached its peak over GM food. Regardless of the benefits, the EU puts its hands over its ears and closes its eyes.

This reached bizarre depths when the European Commission president, Jean Claude Junker, dispensed with the services of his scientific adviser, Professor Anne Glover, because she suggested there was a need to debate the science around GM. She did not advocate its use, but reflected her role by calling for more science in decision making. She was replaced, in true Brussels style, by a committee of so-called experts, that the Commission would find easier to control.

When the EU confronts problems in agriculture, GM is the elephant in the room that cannot be part of the debate. It is under pressure to reduce the use of pesticides and to ban some, but GM crop solutions cannot even be discussed. It is under pressure to become less dependent on the United States and South America for soya imports – but again GM solutions are not seen as part of the equation.

Successive European Commissions have demonised GM, and having done so it is difficult to engage reverse gear and admit the debate has moved on. It is still stuck in the early days of GM, when the science was all about improving productivity. Today techniques are about the traits needed in plants to cope with the challenging future global agriculture faces because of climate change and environmental issues.

The French government is demanding a EU-wide reduction in pesticide use, including a ban on glyphosate. It claims the impact can be offset via technical developments and many in Brussels like this thinking. However by resisting GM it is seeking to apply science without the number one tool the rest of the world is using. This is an approach lacking not only in scientific rigour, but also in logic or independent thinking.

To his credit Boris Johnson has entered this debate, by suggesting there is a case for reviewing this EU-led opposition to GM technology. It was wrong that his predecessor, Theresa May, left this to him. As a diabetic dependent on insulin she uses a GM-derived product every day and on that basis could have been a rallying point in Europe for supporting science.

The EU stance will no longer be the UK's problem, and its anti-science position is rooted in the bizarre structure of its so-called scientific advisory committees. These are more political than scientific and still use the arcane rules of qualified majority and minority blocking votes. Member states may as well send the most junior civil servant to these committees as a scientist, because they do not allow independent thinking. It was this structure that made the post of chief scientific adviser to Junker ultimately untenable and it is a structure the UK should have no qualms about escaping.

The UK led the world in science in agriculture, but its wings and independence were clipped by the EU. It would be good if we could again in the UK gain that independence of thought but it will not be easy. Green is now the default colour in policy, and activist groups will seek to block any policy change on GM.

There could also be problems trading with the EU-27 if we do not meet their GM rules. That would be wrong because some member states already grow these crops and GM products are imported. However in a 'no deal' situation the UK is unlikely to be treated fairly. That said, credit goes to the new prime minister for putting this issue back on the agenda after years of blindly following the EU line.