Owen Paterson, secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, has said technology behind genetically modified (GM) crops has “real environmental benefits” for the future of British food.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Paterson explained how GM food should be grown and sold throughout Britain as ministers prepare to relax regulations on the cultivation of such crops.

Paterson said: “Emphatically we should be looking at GM… I’m very clear it would be a good thing. The trouble is all this stuff about Frankenstein foods and putting poisons in foods. There are real benefits, and what you’ve got to do is sell the real environmental benefits.”

He described those criticising the technology as “humbugs”, adding that he believed it could increase crop yields and prevent disease in a bid to secure Britain’s future food security.

“There’s about 160 million hectares of GM being grown around the world. There isn’t a single piece of meat being served [in a typical London restaurant] where a bullock hasn’t eaten some GM feed. So it’s a complete nonsense. Large amounts of GM products are used across Europe,” he added.

Commenting on the consultation of GM crops, Paterson said he was confident that Prime Minister David Cameron would find an “appropriate moment” to back GM food.