Letter to the editor: ‘Let’s embrace the fact that we’re looking to utilise technology’ in UK farming

It was great to hear the Environment Secretary George Eustice, position UK agriculture at the forefront of innovation at the Oxford Farming Conference 21, through positioning gene editing as an option for UK farmers.

Also Read: Minister Eustice launches consultation on gene editing

With Brexit now complete, I agree we need to position ourselves as international leaders, utilising the latest technology to keep British produce at the forefront of the global market.

We welcome genetic advancements in the seed sector. Elements having been embraced previously, with the introduction of Clearfield technology in oilseed rape (OSR) and specific disease resilience, such as Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV) in wheat varieties.

What’s important to remember is advancements like gene editing are not about profiteering but rather providing an extra layer to the security and sustainability of food production.

With an ever-growing population, and additional influential factors on crop performance such as weather, which is out of the grower’s control, this advancement in technology will undoubtedly offer more protection against external influences.

Benefiting existing species

For our customers, we envisage this benefiting existing species, to better combat disease pressure, as well as providing new marketable opportunities.

As an industry, we’re striving for sustainable alternative protein sources and the use of gene editing in the future may enable UK growers to produce viable alternatives here on British soil, putting the UK agricultural industry at the cutting edge of sustainable food production.

Gene editing is certainly an exciting prospect, but still, we face questions on how this can work, and what this will mean at the farm gate.

For now, let’s embrace the fact that we’re looking to utilise technology and innovation, to maintain the UK’s position as a global leader in responsible and sustainable food production.

From Toby Reich, head of seeds, Wynnstay.