View from the fence

Social, environmental and economic issues surrounding GM foods, and the latest news


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Farming post-Brexit: the fate of agri-environment schemes

With the plans for a post-EU Britain still unclear, farmers and conservationists are in the dark about how their income will be affected by the loss of EU subsidies. There has been some welcome news from the Chancellor: funding is guaranteed for all agri-environment schemes drawn up until the UK leaves the EU.

For three decades EU agri-environment schemes have been compensating farmers for loss of income associated with measures that aim to benefit the environment or biodiversity. It’s not clear whether spending on these will be maintained by the UK government, or what new schemes would look like if there are any.  Continue reading

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GM is a distraction

This week I went to a debate at the British Library about ‘Biotech on the Farm’. A geneticist, an economist and a Friends of the Earth campaigner talked genetic modification, taxes and eating meat as part of the regular TalkScience series. There was far more which the panel agreed on than might have been anticipated, driven by the common understanding that we need to increase food production while protecting the environment.

The geneticist and Friends of the Earth campaigner found plenty of common ground, and plenty to disagree on. They both believe genetic modification is a distraction. Professor Sang believes the method of production is just a distraction – it’s the product that counts. She was keen to see regulations changed from process-based to product-based: if you produce a herbicide-resistant crop it should be assessed for safety in the same way regardless of how you produce it.

Vicki Hird from Friends of the Earth believed that GM is distracting us from the political issues preventing the distribution of the food we already produce. Continue reading