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Latest thinking and first in the field

Published: 30 September, 2017

Agri-Tech Week 2017The striking thing about Agri-Tech Week is the calibre and diversity of the people taking part and the opportunities to interact with them.  The events are designed to enable a free flow of discussion and ideas between all the participants.

The political landscape is changing rapidly and this is affecting agricultural policy.

Maria Beatriz GiraudoAt REAP Argentinian farmer María Beatriz Giraudo, Winner of the Kleckner Prize Global Farming Prize 2016 will describe how decades of neglect from the government drove the farming industry to lead investment in agricultural research.  The partnership between farmers and academics has enabled the rapid uptake of the latest findings and also directed research at solving industry challenges.

The result has been many successes; yields and productivity have increased dramatically and alternative approaches such as no-till have been adopted. But there have also been significant failures, particularly in a rush to adopt GMOs. Maria is keen to discuss the learning points so that countries like the UK can benefit from their experiences and not repeat the mistakes.

Also looking at the bigger picture are two events in Norfolk.

Emeritus Professor Allan Buckwell, a senior research fellow at the Institute of European Environmental Policy, is presenting the RNAA annual lecture.  Prof Buckwell co-authored a report “Potential Implications of leaving the EU for UK agriculture and the rural environment”  commissioned by the UK Land Use Policy Group (LUPG)* as a contribution to the debate on future policy trajectories in the UK for the agricultural sector once outside the CAP and the implications these have for the rural environment.  The report sets out a series of five exploratory scenarios, setting out alternative pathways for the agricultural sector in the UK over the next ten years and beyond.

Cultivating the FutureIn the morning, the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC) will be showcasing its new presentation looking at the opportunities for advanced breeding technologies beyond Europe. ABC is an industry group comprising BASF, Bayer, Dow AgroSciences, Monsanto, Pioneer (DuPont) and Syngenta.

Last year ABC presented a report ‘Cultivating the Future’, which was a series of essays authored by leading plant scientists, academics, trade bodies and politicians, analyses numerous breakthroughs in plant technology and concluded that we are on the verge of launching a new range of tools developed from advances in genetic knowledge and technology and that farmers should have access to technology in the future. Acknowledging the UK’s food and farming sector and the strong scientific community, the authors contended that the UK has many competitive advantages in this industry and should move beyond debate to implementation.

Certainly lots of food for thought and the opportunity to hear directly from informed individuals and participate in the discussions.

Report: Potential Implications for leaving the EU The LUPG comprises Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Environment Agency, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

Report: Cultivating the future by Agricultural Biotechnology Council.