As is always the case, UK farmers are being encouraged to do everything in their power to control input costs and improve efficiency levels.
However, it could be argued that they are striving to achieve this objective with one arm tied behind their backs, given the iniquitous way in which the EU member states to handle the genetically modified (GM) crops issue.
The reality remains that the power brokers in Brussels are still taking far too long to ratify new GM crop varieties.
Meanwhile, the zero-tolerance regarding the importation of uncertified GM crops into the EU continues to make life for the feed trade extremely difficult.
If this status quo is retained, the consequences for our livestock sectors down the road could be horrendous.
Compare all of this with the news that American researchers are now using genetic manipulation to combat mastitis and a range of other animal diseases. From an EU perspective, this may well be regarded as a pretty scary development – although not an altogether surprising one.
For one thing, it reflects the totally different attitude that exists towards genetic engineering in the United States, compared with Europe. Across the pond, it really is a case of anything goes.
Hardly a day goes by when one US research body or another is either announcing some form of breakthrough associated with genetic engineering or is seeking funds to carry out work of this type.
And all of this is taking place in the public domain with little or no resistance coming from consumer or environmental pressure groups.
Contrast this with the public outcry in Europe over genetically modified sugar beet, oilseed rape and maize. Literally millions of pounds have been spent over most of the last decade carrying out trials at secret locations in order to gauge the likely environmental impact of these crops.
Landowners and farmers known to have acquiesced in this work have been publicly pilloried with the result that the term ‘genetically modified’ is now synonymous with every negative image that one can conjure up when it comes to food safety and wholesomeness.
Admittedly, the cause of those supporting genetic engineering in Europe has not been helped by the myriad food scares that have come to light over the past 10 years.
As a result, genetic modification now ranks among BSE, Salmonella and Dioxins in the public’s all-time food safety scare list.
So where do we go from here? Brexit may well be the stimulus that brings about a change in policy, where GM and local farming are concerned.
The current UK Government has consistently argued in favour of ‘science’ being the main driver when it comes to making decisions regarding the implementation of new technologies across the board.
The recent green light to allow GM wheat trials at the Rothamsted research institute is evidence of this commitment...but only time will tell if this momentum will be maintained.