Web Only: best of the blogs

The five must-read blogs from today, including nervous times for Clegg.

1. Repressionomics - can 'financial repression' solve debt crisis?

Can countries still inflate away their debts? Newsnight's Paul Mason investigates.

2. Nervous times for Clegg ahead of the Lib Dem spring conference

If the Lib Dem conference votes against the Bill, it will create a huge political headache for the government, says Coffee House's James Forsyth.

3. Isn't it time the Bank cut interest rates to zero?

The Bank's 0.5pc cut-off point seems rather arbitrary, says the Telegraph's Philip Aldrick.

4. Gingrich could be quitting next week

Political Betting's Mike Smithson notes that the former Speaker could withdraw from the race if he loses in Alabama and Mississippi next Tuesday.

5. The next PLP Chair - who the candidates?

John Cryer and Dave Watts are competing to be the next chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party, notes Mark Ferguson at Labour List.

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Why Prince Charles and Princess Anne are both wrong on GM foods

The latest tiff between toffs gives plenty of food for thought.

I don’t have siblings, so I was weirdly curious as a kid about friends who did, especially when they argued (which was often). One thing I noticed was the importance of superlatives: of being the best child, the most right, and the first to have been wronged. And it turns out things are no different for the Royals.

You might think selective breeding would be a subject on which Prince Charles and Princess Anne would share common ground, but when it comes to genetically modified crops they have very different opinions.

According to Princess Anne, the UK should ditch its concerns about GM and give the technology the green light. In an interview to be broadcast on Radio 4’s Farming Today, she said would be keen to raise both modified crops and livestock on her own land.

“Most of us would argue we have been genetically modifying food since man started to be agrarian,” she said (rallying the old first-is-best argument to her cause). She also argued that the practice can help reduce the price of our food and improve the lives of animals - and “suspects” that there are not many downsides.

Unfortunately for Princess Anne, her Royal “us” does not include her brother Charles, who thinks that GM is The Worst.

In 2008, he warned that genetically engineered food “will be guaranteed to cause the biggest disaster environmentally of all time.”  Supporting such a path would risk handing control of our food-chain to giant corporations, he warned -  leading to “absolute disaster” and “unmentionable awfulness” and “the absolute destruction of everything”.

Normally such a spat could be written off as a toff-tiff. But with Brexit looming, a change to our present ban on growing GM crops commercially looks ever more likely.

In this light, the need to swap rhetoric for reason is urgent. And the most useful anti-GM argument might instead be that offered by the United Nations’ cold, hard data on crop yields.

Analysis by the New York Times shows that, in comparison to Europe, the United States and Canada have “gained no discernible advantages” from their use of GM (in terms of food per acre). Not only this, but herbicide use in the US has increased rather than fallen.

In sum: let's swap superlatives and speculation for sense.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.