Politi­cians need to show GM tech­nol­ogy lead­er­ship

Irish Independent - Farming - - Farm Management -

ex­am­ple of stay­ing in the mid­dle of the road to get hit from both sides and Ire­land has got grief from both the ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ GM lobby on its stance.

Ire­land changed tack of late and voted against GM au­tho­ri­sa­tion dur­ing the re­cent vote in the EU on DuPont Pioneer 1507, a GM mod­i­fi­ca­tion of maize against the corn borer.

The fact that the corn borer is a pest that af­fects maize crops in hot coun­tries and is not an is­sue in Ire­land, or that con­trol of the corn borer other­wise in­volves the ju­di­cious use of heavy duty in­sec­ti­cides, doesn’t seem to be­come part of the dis­cus­sion.

IN­DUS­TRY

With the large biotech in­dus­tries we are proud to have in this coun­try, the strong sci­en­tific his­tory we are just as proud to show off, and the sci­ence based de­vel­op­ment of agri­cul­ture we es­pouse to in Food Har­vest 2020, Ire­land now votes against GM tech­nol­ogy on the ba­sis that it ‘is an is­sue of pub­lic sen­si­tiv­ity across mem­ber states’.

As I have said pre­vi­ously, GM tech­nol­ogy is no magic for­mula, the in­tro­duc­tion of the tech­nol­ogy was quite rightly held back un­til re­search was car­ried out, safe­guards were put in place and ex­pe­ri­ence of the tech­nol­ogy has been gar­nered from other coun­tries.

How­ever, all the struc­tures that were called for be­fore the tech­nol­ogy would be al­lowed are now in place at EU and na­tional l e vel , but our politi­cians still ac­qui­esce to the most vo­cal and do not show lead­er­ship when called upon.

It’s bad enough for the coun­try to vote against sci­ence, but to find yourself on the los­ing side makes it all the worse.

The clos­ing date for the Zurich Farmer of the Year awards is ap­proach­ing. I am par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in the ‘Al­ter­na­tive/ other farmer’ cat­e­gory.

I used to be slightly am­biva­lent to­wards al­ter­na­tive en­ter­prises. Time spent away from a core busi­ness can be very detri­men­tal to­wards the core in­come stream. How­ever, I have seen that in dif­fi­cult times, the more in­come streams you have the more likely some of them will stay per­form­ing and keep a busi­ness afloat.

Also, al­ter­na­tive en­ter­prises tend to bring people around a farm which can make life more in­ter­est­ing and of­ten al­ter­na­tive en­ter­prises can en­force ef­fi­ciency in the core busi­ness while pro­vid­ing in­come to de­velop the busi­ness as a whole.

Look­ing at the cat­e­gories, the ‘other’ cat­e­gory will be in­ter­est­ing to see how a whole raft of sec­tors can be com­pared and judged.

The list of other cat­e­gories is wide, off the top of my head it can i nclude hor t i c ul t ure, or­gan­ics, forestry, food man­u­fac­tur­ing, nurs­ery stock, agri­tourism, poul­try, pigs, even con­sul­tants might be squeezed into the mix. It’s over to you to add to that list, with the clos­ing date for en­tries be­ing March 7.

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