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"If we tried to feed the global population today on the average agricultural yields of the 1960s, we would need to farm over 85 percent of global land, instead of the 35 percent we use currently."

 

Professor Robert Henry

University of Queensland

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How natural is our food, and what does 'natural' mean anyway?

                                                                                     

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Sustainable food and farming policies must be rooted in science, says new policy group

                                                                                     

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“A few years ago, we also studied the trade-offs between high yields and external environmental effects, measured per unit of product. Contrary to our expectations, we found the external harms of high-yielding systems quite often turned out to be much lower than those of more extensive systems, such as organic farming. In terms of nitrogen and phosphate losses, from different dairy systems, for example, the difference was a factor of two. So if you want to reduce pollution, you should probably avoid organic milk.”

Professor Andrew Balmford

University of Cambridge

Read full article HERE

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must reads

Waging War on Modern Agriculture and Global Nutrition

Paul Driessen, Town Hall, July 2024

Not so good after all? People who eat more organic food have more toxins in their blood

Brussels Times, July 2024

History of misery when farmers are forced to go organic

Jack DeWitt, July 2024

Let’s look at the facts on pesticides

Ieuan Evans, Grainews, July 2024

“Our food security relies on Europe’s farmers: we must give them our support”

The Parliament Magazine, July 2024

The food crisis is one of our own making

Ben Payton, Agri-Investor, July 2024

What is the bioeconomy and how can it drive sustainable development?

Stefanie Ólives, World Economic Forum, July 2024

Guest opinion: Caleb Hoversten: Going organic is a fair choice, but we need to stop considering it a superior one

Caleb Hoversten, Daily Camera, July 2024

Climate change is pushing up food prices – and worrying central banks

Financial Times, July 2024

Can Gene Editing Help Tackle Global Issues?

Wired, July 2024

How a proposed herbicide ban would actually result in greater environmental harm

Karun Samran, The Fresno Bee, July 2024

Innovation in Seed Production

Cécile Dumais-Louys, Seed World, July 2024

Farmers Want Gene-editing Technology

Cherilyn Jolly Nagel, Global Farmer Network, June 2024

Save the Whales, Blind the Children

Mark Crislip, Science-Based Medicine, June 2024

The Developing World (Still) Needs Golden Rice

Michael Fumento, The American Spectator, June 2024

Insider knowledge: How some exploit organic labels for profit

Amanda Zaluckyj, Ag Daily, June 2024

Why Eating Organic Isn’t a Climate Solution

Seth Millstein, Sentient Media, June 2024

Boosted Breeding and beyond: 3 tech trends that could end world hunger

Kristin Houser, Freethink, June 2024

Nature Knows Best? Naturalness in the Ultra-Processed Foods Debate

Hester van Hensbergen, Table Debates, June 2024

 

Let’s have crop regulation but don’t block science

Jack Kennedy, Irish Farmers Journal, June 2024

Opinion: Barriers continue to fall for genetically modified wheat production

Barb Glen, Bruce Dyck &b Karen Briere, Farmtario, June 2024

Food Security: FG launches high-yielding Tela maize varieties

Nigerian Tribune, June 2024

 

How do pesticides help agriculture? Here’s an explanation

Michelle Miller, AgDaily, June 2024

Mexico, Maize, and Food Sovereignty

L. Val Giddings, ITIF, June 2024

Q&A: The evolving debate about using genetically modified crops in a warming world

Orla Dwyer, Carbon Brief, June 2024

Greenpeace’s campaign against Golden Rice is a crime against humanity

Zion Lights, Spiked, June 2024

 

Cis-editing for all

Editorial, Nature Biotechnology, June 2024

Gene editing in beef cattle: The possibilities could be endless

Mark Z. Johnson, Farm Progress, June 2024

 

Uruguay Advances Plant Breeding Innovation with Gene Editing Decree

Elena Mansur, Seed World, June 2024

 

GMOs aren’t changing your DNA or causing cancer

Dr Andrea Love, Immunologic, June 2024

Our favourite charities are becoming bloated and confused - they are losing their point

Paul Baldwin, Daily Express June 2024

Scientists are on a quest for drought-resistant wheat, agriculture's 'Holy Grail'

Amanda Stephenson, CBC, June 2024

We need some easy wins - liberalising GMOs could be one

Max Salmon, The Post, June 2024

What do we want from our farms: food or flowers?

Emma Duncan, The Times, May 2024

Scientists develop mutant rice capable of resisting common crop disease — here's why it's so important

Susan Elizabeth Turek, The Cool Down, May 2024

Bogus ‘bee-mageddon’ is another fake environmental catastrophe scam creating buzz

John Stossel, New York Post, May 2024

Australian trial of gene-edited wheat aims for 10% bigger yields

Reuters, May 2024

GMOs and genetic engineering are wildly misunderstood

Dr Andrea Love, Immunologic, May 2024

Can the harsh conditions of space breed more resistant crops for Earth?

Diana Kruzman, Grist, May 2024

Argentina’s Bioceres makes world's first sales of genetically modified wheat seeds 

Reuters, May 2024

How can genetically modified organisms be safely integrated into organic farming practices to ensure food security?

Dr Luis Vaschetto, AzoLifeSciences, May 2024

Glyphosate still doesn't cause cancer

Dr Andrea Love, Immunologic, May 2024

Go home, ‘Save the Bees’ crowd — there was never a Beepocalypse

Colby Cosh, National Post, May 2024

CFIA Confirms Gene Edited Plants in Livestock Feed are Safe, Industry Applauds the Move

Seed World, May 2024

New Livestock Biotechnology Guidance Misses the Mark

Emma Kovak, The Breakthrough Institute, May 2024

University of Arkansas Releases Lifecycle Assessment Showing Pesticides Advance Sustainable Agriculture

University of Arkansas, April 2024

The West Needs to Come to Grips with African Fertilizer Needs

Vijaya Ramachandran, The Breakthrough Institute, April 2024

Gene genius: How gene technology is changing the future of food

Vincent Heeringa, New Zealand Herald, April 2024

Children could die because of Greenpeace’s Golden Rice activism

Mark Lynas, The Spectator, April 2024

Greenpeace Crusade Will Blind and Kill Children

Ronald Bailey, Reason, April 2024

How effective are policies in reducing the environmental impacts of agriculture?

Hannah Ritchie, Our World in Data, April 2024

Research priorities breed frustration, confusion

Robert Arnason, The Western Producer, April 2024

What does carcinogenic really mean?

Dr Andrea Love, Immunologic, April 2024

A Win for Common Sense and Science

Guillermo Breton, Global Farmer Network, April 2024

Turning plants blue with gene editing could make robot weeding easier

New Scientist, April 2024

Rejoice! You Are Living in the Golden Age of Fruit

Noah Rothman, National Review, April 2024

The glyphosate debate: Facts, risks and benefits

Jeff Miller, AgProud, April 2024

Bumblebees Don't Care about Pesticide Cocktails

University of Würzburg, April 2024

M&S invests £1m in tackling methane from burping and farting cows

The Guardian, April 2024

EU Continues Its Unscientific, Anti-Innovation Regulation Of Genetic Engineering

Henry Miller & Rob Wager, ACSH, April 2024

Why humanity is good for the natural world

Matt Ridley, Spiked, April 2024

Why humanity is good for the natural world - spiked (spiked-online.com)

Cut pesticide use, but how?

Pieter de Wolf, WUR, April 2024

Cut pesticide use, but how? - WUR

What if global emissions went down instead of up?

Pilita Clark, Financial Times, April 2024

What if global emissions went down instead of up? (ft.com)

 

From novelty to necessity? The evolution of insect farming

Elaine Watson, AgFunder News, April 2024

From novelty to necessity? The evolution of insect farming (agfundernews.com)

 

An assessment of the linkages between GM crop biotechnology and climate change mitigation

Stuart J. Smyth et al, GM Crops and Food, April 2024

Full article: An assessment of the linkages between GM crop biotechnology and climate change mitigation (tandfonline.com)

Feeding the world, whilst "sparing land"? Debating the rise of modern Brazilian agriculture

Adam Tooze, Chartbook, April 2024

Chartbook 273: Feeding the world, whilst "sparing land"? Debating the rise of modern Brazilian agriculture. (substack.com)

China approves 81 GM seeds to boost maize & soybean as Indian biotech is blocked & crop yields languish

TCA Sharad Raghavan, The Print, April 2024

China approves 81 GM seeds to boost maize & soybean as Indian biotech is blocked & crop yields languish (theprint.in)

 

Coalition Created to Advocate for Farmers’ Access to Critical Crop Protection Tools

Modern Ag Alliance, April 2024

Coalition-Created-to-Advocate-for-Farmers-Access-to-Critical-Crop-Protection-Tools-4.4.pdf (controlweedsnotfarming.com)

Can World Hunger Ever Be Eliminated? Not Using Europe Or The UN

Hank Campbell, Science 2.0, April 2024

Can World Hunger Ever Be Eliminated? Not Using Europe Or The UN | Science 2.0 (science20.com)

Solar farms are taking us back to the dark ages

Matt Ridley, The Telegraph, April 2024

Solar farms are taking us back to the dark ages (telegraph.co.uk)

 

Can Africa one day help feed the world’s growing population?

Financial Times, April 2024

Can Africa one day help feed the world’s growing population? (ft.com)

How misinformation is making us fear our food

Jessica Steier, The Hill, April 2024

How misinformation is making us fear our food | The Hill

Quantifying changes in the environmental impact of in-crop herbicide use in Saskatchewan, Canada

Stuart J. Smyth et al, Weed Technology, March 2024

Quantifying changes in the environmental impact of in-crop herbicide use in Saskatchewan, Canada | Weed Technology | Cambridge Core

The Farmers are Fighting this One Alone

David Zaruk, The Risk-Monger, March 2024

The Farmers are Fighting this One Alone – The Risk-Monger

Organic foods are not healthier...or pesticide free.

Dr Andrea Love, Immunologic, March 2024

Organic foods are not healthier...or pesticide free. (substack.com)

The Era Of Healthier Produce Thanks To Science Is Just Getting Started

Juergen Eckhardt, Forbes, March 2024

The Era Of Healthier Produce Thanks To Science Is Just Getting Started (forbes.com)

How technology is making flour production more sustainable and healthier

Andrew Tindall, British Baker, March 2024

How technology is shaping the future of wheat farming | British Baker (bakeryinfo.co.uk)

Biotech Matters: Innovation in Agricultural Biotechnology

L. Val Giddings, CNAS, March 2024

Biotech Matters: Innovation in Agricultural Biotechnology | Center for a New American Security (en-US) (cnas.org)

The EU Continues Its Unscientific, Anti-Innovation Policymaking

Rob Wager & Henry Miller, European Scientist, March 2024

The EU Continues Its Unscientific, Anti-Innovation Policymaking (europeanscientist.com)

Synergizing biotechnology and natural farming: pioneering agricultural sustainability through innovative interventions

Anila Badiyal et al, Frontiers in Plant Science, March 2024

Frontiers | Synergizing biotechnology and natural farming: pioneering agricultural sustainability through innovative interventions (frontiersin.org)

India needs a new maize revolution

The Hindu Business Line, March 2024

India needs a new maize revolution - The Hindu BusinessLine

New research shows unintended harms of organic farming

AFP, March 2024

New research shows unintended harms of organic farming (yahoo.com)

Perspective: Can organic and conventional farming coexist peacefully?

Tim Durham, AgDaily, March 2024

Can organic and conventional farming coexist peacefully? | AGDAILY

Plant-killing genetic technology could wipe out superweeds

Michael Le Page, New Scientist, March 2024

Plant-killing genetic technology could wipe out superweeds | New Scientist

Twenty-eight years of GM Food and feed without harm: why not accept them?

Richard E. Goodman, National Library of Medicine, March 2024

Twenty-eight years of GM Food and feed without harm: why not accept them? - PubMed (nih.gov)

The EU Commission strikes again – New patent ban?

Dr Ute Kilger, European Biotechnology, March 2024

The EU Commission strikes again – New patent ban? - European Biotechnology (european-biotechnology.com)

Climate and food security concerns prompting new openness to technology in agriculture

Real Agriculture, March 2024

Climate and food security concerns prompting new openness to technology in agriculture – RealAgriculture

Nutrition and food production: Our greatest challenges for the next 30 years

European Scientist, March 2024

Nutrition and food production: Our greatest challenges for the next 30 years (europeanscientist.com)

Consumer benefits from tech a key part of acceptance

Editorial, The Western Producer, March 2024

Consumer benefits from tech a key part of acceptance | The Western Producer

2023: An Activist Annus Horribilis

David Zaruk, Seed World Europe, March 2024

2023: An Activist Annus Horribilis - Seed World

Costs of inappropriately regulating all seed innovations as GMOs are too high for South Africa

Lukeshni Chetty, Daily Maverick, March 2024

Costs of inappropriately regulating all seed innovations as GMOs are too high for South Africa (dailymaverick.co.za)

'Healthy' purple tomato developed in Norwich not for sale in UK over GM restrictions

ITV News, March 2024

'Healthy' purple tomato developed in Norwich not for sale in UK over GM restrictions | ITV News Anglia

China develops higher yielding wheat

World Grain, February 2024

China develops higher yielding wheat | World Grain (world-grain.com)

Salmon ova heavyweights urge Norway to allow gene editing

Fish Farming Expert, February 2024

Salmon ova heavyweights urge Norway to allow gene editing (fishfarmingexpert.com)

Economic Sustainability vs. Environmental Sustainability

Stuart Smyth, SAIFood, February 2024

Economic Sustainability Vs. Environmental Sustainability - SAIFood

Why firms are racing to produce green ammonia

Chris Baraniuk, BBC News, February 2024

Why firms are racing to produce green ammonia - BBC News

 

Innovative Bioengineered Potatoes in Rwanda: A Beacon of Hope for Bees and Farmers Alike

BNN, 27 February 2024

Innovative Bioengineered Potatoes in Rwanda: A Beacon of Hope for … (bnnbreaking.com)

How the nod to critical pesticides will bolster India’s agricultural progress

C.D. Mayee, LiveMint February 2024

How the nod to critical pesticides will bolster India's agricultural progress | Mint (livemint.com)

 

Scotland’s farmers are more likely to be left at the coos tail

Brian Henderson, The Scottish Farmer, February 2024

Scotland’s farmers are more likely to be left at the coos tail | The Scottish Farmer

The Media And I: Enhancing The Soil To Improve Farming

Henry I. Miller, ACSH, February 2024

The Media and I: Enhancing the Soil to Improve Farming | American Council on Science and Health (acsh.org)

China’s embrace of GM crops will have global implications

Shaleen Khanal & Zhang Hongzhou, Think China, 22 February 2024

China’s embrace of GM crops will have global implications, Society News - ThinkChina

 

EU pesticide bans: what are the impacts and are they necessary?

Eve Thomas, Just Food, February 2024

EU pesticide bans: what are the impacts and are they necessary? - Just Food (just-food.com)

How climate change may increase pest and disease threats

Farmers Weekly, February 2024

How climate change may increase pest and disease threats - Farmers Weekly (fwi.co.uk)

 

Are farmers markets or supermarkets the low carbon food choice?

Mark Harris, Anthropocene, February 2024

Are farmers markets or supermarkets the low carbon choice? (anthropocenemagazine.org)

 

Agricultural chemical use and the rural-urban divide in Canada

Stuart J Smyth & Sylvain Charlebois, GM Crops & Food, February 2024

Full article: Agricultural chemical use and the rural-urban divide in Canada (tandfonline.com)

Our Obsession with Zero

David Zaruk, The Firebreak, February 2024

Our Obsession with Zero - THE FIREBREAK

The trait that could transform wheat farming

Tom Allen-Stevens, Views on Agriculture, February 2024

The trait that could transform wheat farming - Views on Agriculture

The scientific case for land sparing is compelling

Daniel Pearsall, Farmers Weekly, February 2024

Opinion: The scientific case for land sparing is compelling - Farmers Weekly (fwi.co.uk)

 

How science is helping farmers to find a balance between agriculture and solar farms

Magali Reinert, Nature, February 2024

How science is helping farmers to find a balance between agriculture and solar farms (nature.com)

 

PRRS virus-resistant nucleus herd ready for breeding upon regulatory approval

Ann Hess, National Hog Farmer, February 2024

PRRS virus-resistant nucleus herd ready for breeding upon regulatory approval (nationalhogfarmer.com)

MEPs sow seeds of change for gene-edited plant patentability: Will it bear bad fruit for the biotechnology industry?

Venner Shipley, 15 February 2024

MEPs sow seeds of change for gene-edited plant patentability: Will it bear bad fruit for the biotechnology industry? - Venner Shipley

Five reasons why the anti-biotech movement is in retreat

Mark Lynas, Alliance for Science, February 2024

Five reasons why the anti-biotech movement is in retreat - Alliance for Science

 

Uruguay wants to use gene drives to eradicate devastating screwworms

Abdullahi Tsanni, MIT Technology Review, February 2024

Uruguay wants to use gene drives to eradicate devastating screwworms | MIT Technology Review

Norway Approves GMO Canola Oil in Aquaculture: A Leap Towards Sustainable Fish Farming

BNN, February 2024

Norway Approves GMO Canola Oil in Aquaculture: A Leap Towards Sustainable Fish Farming (bnnbreaking.com)

 

World first: disease resistant GM banana approved for consumption

Cosmos, February 2024

Queensland banana first GM fruit approved in Australia (cosmosmagazine.com)

 

Regenerative Agriculture – Buzzword? Bust? Or the Future of Agriculture?

Judson Christopherson, SAIFood, February 2024

Regenerative Agriculture - Buzzword? Bust? Or The Future Of Agriculture? - SAIFood

 

NGOs slam France’s plans to adopt EU method for measuring pesticides risk

Euractiv, February 2024

NGOs slam France’s plans to adopt EU method for measuring pesticides risk – Euractiv

The future of farming: Exploring the realities of regenerative agricultural practices

Potato News Today, February 2024

The future of farming: Exploring the realities of regenerative agricultural practices – Potato News Today

 

The EPA does not require warning labels for Roundup—yet Bayer lost $10 billion for not having them

Center for Truth in Science, February 2024

The EPA does not require warning labels for Roundup—yet Bayer lost $10 billion for not having them (truthinscience.org)

Soil Survivor: Using Nanotech for Regenerative Agriculture

Amanda Jasi, The Chemical Engineer, February 2024

Soil Survivor: Using Nanotech for Regenerative Agriculture - Features - The Chemical Engineer

Taking a more modified approach

Alan Emerson, Wairarapa Times-Age, February 2024

Taking a more modified approach - Wairarapa Times-Age

 

EU proposal to regulate gene-edited plants raises concerns for biotech and plant breeders alike

Potter Clarkson, February 2024

EU Proposal To Regulate Gene-Edited Plants Raises Concerns for Biotech & Plant Breeders Alike | Potter Clarkson

 

BVDV-Resistant Calf Created Through Gene Editing

Bovine Vet Online, February 2024

BVDV-Resistant Calf Created Through Gene Editing | Bovine Veterinarian (bovinevetonline.com)

The Buzz on ‘The Great Honey Bee Die-Off’

Michael Fumento, The American Spectator, February 2024

The Buzz on ‘The Great Honey Bee Die-Off’ - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics

We Can’t Do it Without Patents

Marcel Bruins, Seed World Europe, February 2024

We Can’t Do it Without Patents - Seed World Europe (european-seed.com)

A Global Farmer Perspective on the Opportunity Offered With New Plant Breeding Technology

Diana Lenzi, Global Farmer Network, February 2024

A Global Farmer Perspective on the Opportunity Offered With New Plant Breeding Technology – Global Farmer Network

How Indian Farmers Are Using AI To Increase Crop Yield

Janakiram MSV, Forbes, February 2025

How Indian Farmers Are Using AI To Increase Crop Yield (forbes.com)

The EU risks losing out on farming’s genomic reboot

Anjana Ahuja, Financial Times, January 2024

The EU risks losing out on farming’s genomic reboot (ft.com)

 

Plastic pollution: Could genetically engineered bacteria be the solution?

Henry Miller & Kathleen Hefferon, Washington Examiner, January 2024

Plastic pollution: Could genetically engineered bacteria be the solution? - Washington Examiner

Will the USDA Ever Allow GMOs on Organic Farms?

Luke Carneal, Ambrook Research, January 2024

Will the USDA Ever Allow GMOs on Organic Farms? | Ambrook Research

Breakthrough Boosts Plant Yields in Dry Conditions

Mirage News, January 2024

Breakthrough Boosts Plant Yields in Dry Conditions | Mirage News

Green shoots of hope for Italy’s first gene-edited crop field trial

Nature, January 2024

Green shoots of hope for Italy’s first gene-edited crop field trial (nature.com)

Plant scientists turn attention to African staples

Financial Times, January 2024

https://www.ft.com/content/5ce06c10-6fb3-440e-971e-5edfc6efe5ff

CRISPR-edited crops break new ground in Africa

Nature, January 2024

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-024-00176-8

TELA Maize paves way for Nigeria’s self-sufficiency in maize production

The Nation, January 2024

TELA Maize paves way for Nigeria's self-sufficiency in maize production - The Nation Newspaper (thenationonlineng.net)

 

‘Perceptions and emotions’: How consumers in the U.S. and Switzerland view New Genomic Techniques in agriculture

Potato News Today, January 2024

‘Perceptions and emotions’: How consumers in the U.S. and Switzerland view New Genomic Techniques in agriculture – Potato News Today

Agriculture in a changing climate: Africa needs biotechnology

Matthias Berninger, Table Media, January 2024

Agriculture in a changing climate: Africa needs biotechnology • Table.Media

Only scientifically-proven pest controls will reduce food losses

Business Daily Africa, January 2024

Only scientifically-proven pest controls will reduce food losses - Business Daily (businessdailyafrica.com)

Unlocking the power of gene editing

Dr Helen Ferrier, NFU Online, January 2024

Unlocking the power of gene editing – NFUonline

 

Cypriot scientist revolutionizes agriculture with soil-free crop growth

KNEWS, January 2024

Cypriot scientist revolutionizes agriculture with soil-free crop growth, KNEWS (kathimerini.com.cy)

The Case for Doubling Down on Agricultural R&D

Dan Blaustein-Rejto, The Breakthrough Institute, January 2024

The Case for Doubling Down on… | The Breakthrough Institute

Nigeria approves commercial release of GM maize varieties

Alex Abutu, Alliance for Science, January 2024

 Nigeria approves commercial release of GM maize varieties - Alliance for Science

A good journal breaks bad: AAP spreads misinformation about glyphosate

Nicole Keller, Science-Based Medicine, January 2024

A good journal breaks bad: AAP spreads misinformation about glyphosate | Science-Based Medicine (sciencebasedmedicine.org)

GMOs have generated $30 billion extra for Brazilians in the last 25 years

AgroPages, January 2024

AgroPages-GMOs have generated $30 billion extra for Brazilians in the last 25 years-Agricultural news

Germany’s farmers are fighting back against green tyranny

Sabine Beppler-Spahl, Spiked, January 2024

Germany’s farmers are fighting back against green tyranny - spiked (spiked-online.com)

 

Risk-appropriate regulations for gene-editing technologies

Graham Brookes & Stuart Smyth, GM Crops & Food, January 2024

Full article: Risk-appropriate regulations for gene-editing technologies (tandfonline.com)

 

Genome-edited rice resistant to virus wreaking havok in Africa

Imma Perfetto, Cosmos, January 2024

Scientists’ ‘super banana’ could save thousands of lives, reduce blindness – but it still has major opposition to overcome

The Cool Down, January 2024

On solid ground: AgTech is driving sustainable farming and is expected to harvest US$18 billion in 2024

Deloitte Insights, January 2024

Understanding China’s Food Priorities for 2024

Genevieve Donnellon-May, The Diplomat, January 2024

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Science for Sustainable Agriculture news

Environmental NGOs are undermining society’s need for more climate-adaptive, sustainable farming

Stuart Smyth

 

Thirty-years into the agricultural biotechnology revolution, economist Stuart Smyth notes that the initial science-based concerns about GM crops posed by environmental NGOs have proved unfounded, based on more than twenty years of peer-reviewed research, assessment and analysis. But these activist groups still opt to ignore the ever-mounting evidence and continue to promote misinformation, scaring people into rejecting demonstrably beneficial farming technologies. In doing so, they risk being marginalised as their hypocrisy becomes clear, but the public still feels the pain of their myopia, radicalisation and self-indulgence.

Read more...

What will a Labour UK Government mean for agricultural science and innovation?

Professor Johnathan Napier

UK plant scientist Professor Johnathan Napier welcomes the newly elected Labour Government’s willingness to break new ground in relation to science policy, applauding plans for a new Regulatory Innovation Office, and suggestions that 10-year funding cycles and research programmes might be more appropriate than the current 3-5 norms. He expects Ministers to follow through quickly with the implementing rules needed to free up precision breeding techniques such as gene editing, after both Houses of Parliament approved the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act last year. But given the Labour party’s manifesto commitment to focus on wealth creation, he urges the new administration to go further in freeing up genetic innovation in agriculture, noting that the only place where UK science is creating wealth when it comes to GM crop research is North America. Blight resistant potatoes, purple tomatoes with increased antioxidant levels, and most recently omega-3 enriched camelina are all examples of GM crops worth billions of pounds which have been developed by public sector scientists in the UK, but commercialised in other countries with a more favourable regulatory landscape. Pointing to a recent Royal Society report calling for more proportionate, evidence-based regulation of GM crops, Professor Napier argues that after almost 30 years of safe and effective use of GM crops around the world, it is time for Britain to ditch the time-consuming, costly and restrictive rules we inherited from the EU, and unlock the potential economic and environmental benefits on offer.

Read more...

Pro-innovation think tank sets out five ag policy priorities for the next UK Government

 

As the general election approaches, the major political parties have emphasised the importance of domestic food security, and the need to achieve a better balance between farming and the environment. But the critical role of agricultural science and innovation in delivering those objectives has scarcely been mentioned. Here, five members of the pro-innovation think tank Science for Sustainable Agriculture set out their top policy recommendations for the next Government.

Read more...

The world is richer than ever, but it’s not due to communism or capitalism, it’s science

Hank Campbell

Award-winning science writer Hank Campbell notes that proponents of competing political ideologies are keen to take the credit for the dramatic reductions in the number of people living in poverty seen over the past 70 years. The world is richer than ever, he says, but this is not because of communism or capitalism, it's advances in agricultural science supporting increased yields, allowing more room for nature and biodiversity, while elevating more people out of poverty and hunger. 

Read more...

Unfinished business? Next Government must prioritise implementing rules for precision breeding in agriculture  

Professor Mario Caccamo

 

It is hugely disappointing that the outgoing UK administration was not able to complete the implementation of its flagship legislation to free up the use of precision breeding techniques such as gene editing in agriculture. Time and time again the Precision Breeding Act was heralded by Ministers as an example of Britain flexing its new-found regulatory freedoms outside the EU to pursue a more pro-science, pro-innovation agenda. And yet at the end of this Government’s term in office, the new rules have still not come into effect. The potential to accelerate the development of crop varieties with increased yields, improved climate resilience and reduced environmental footprint will remain unrealised until the necessary implementing rules are introduced. Scientists, breeders, farmers, environmentalists and all those with an interest in freeing up the use of these promising new technologies must make that point clearly and unequivocally to Ministers and elected representatives in the next administration, urges NIAB chief executive Professor Mario Caccamo.    

Read more...

 

 

Yes, we can learn lessons from organic farming: it is not the way forward for a safe, secure or sustainable food supply

Matt Ridley & Daniel Pearsall

The expansion of the human population to over seven billion people during the twentieth century was made possible by the enhancement of agricultural yields through innovation. As the world’s population expands towards ten billion, it is continued access to innovation, rather than new land, that will be needed to keep pace with increased food demand. And yet a number of European countries are still setting ambitious targets for an increase in the proportion of organically farmed land, which would reduce yields and rule out the use of land-sparing technologies such as GM and gene edited crops. Of course, people should be free to choose organic food. But policies designed to increase the amount of land under organic production are dangerously misguided because, as the evidence shows, they would make our food supply less safe, less secure and less sustainable, argue Matt Ridley and Daniel Pearsall.  

Read more...

Sustainable food production must focus on outcomes, not labels

Dr Derrick Wilkinson & Daniel Pearsall

Recently published scientific studies comparing the environmental footprint of different farming systems challenge popular assumptions that premium-priced food labels such as welfare-friendly and organic represent more sustainable choices. In fact, the evidence indicates that they may be significantly worse for the planet in terms of resource use and greenhouse gas emissions. Rather than labels indicating particular farm types or systems, a move towards providing outcomes-based information on a product-by-product basis would offer consumers more meaningful choices. This would mean using consistent, science-based metrics to let consumers know how different products compare in terms of their impact on a range of sustainability factors, including land and water use, carbon emissions, as well as their effects on soil health, water quality and biodiversity. It would also provide the basis to embed farm-level data at the heart of an evidence-based policy agenda focused on securing the optimum balance between each unit of food produced and its external impacts across a range of societal concerns. It’s not rocket science. Let’s hope the next Government is paying attention, argue retired UK economist Dr Derrick Wilkinson and SSA co-ordinator Daniel Pearsall.   

 

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No big deal. Co-existence of precision bred and other crops in England

Julian Sturdy MP

Arable farmer and politician Julian Sturdy MP outlines the recommendations of a new policy paper issued by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture, which concludes that farm-level co-existence between precision bred and other crops in England can be delivered through existing, well-established arrangements for meeting the quality and purity specifications of different end-markets. He also joins calls for more targeted action from the next Government to help registered organic producers source genuine organic seed, and so reduce their dependence on emergency use of non-organic seed.

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30% fall in UK organic area shows producers need access to better tools and technologies

David Hill

 

The area farmed organically in the UK declined by a further 2.1 per cent in 2023. It has fallen by more than 30 per cent over the past 15 years. When there is so much commercial interest and food industry hype around regenerative agriculture, and the need for more ‘nature-friendly’ farming, this is shockingly bad news for organic farming, acknowledges Norfolk arable farmer and registered organic processor, David Hill. Organic producers need access to better tools and technologies, he argues, and with the UK Government expected to look into the rules around the use of gene editing in organic farming, he urges the organic sector to embrace these new breeding methods to avoid terminal decline.        

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As the EU stalls, England must not let precision breeding opportunity slip

Nigel Moore

With little progress now expected on the stalled gene editing file at EU level until 2026 at the earliest, plant breeder Nigel Moore says Britain has a golden opportunity to steal a march on our European counterparts, and to deliver on the Government’s vision to make the UK a science and technology superpower. The Precision Breeding Act has attracted strong interest from potential investors and innovators at home and overseas, supported by a trebling of Government funding for translational plant science. But he warns that this precision breeding opportunity could be at risk, due to concerns that provisions in the secondary legislation needed to implement the Act might lead to restrictive GM-style risk assessments and data requirements for precision bred products, and that the timetable for adopting the implementing regulations could be running out of road before a General Election is called. He urges MPs and Peers on all sides to recognise the risks of consigning British agriculture to the slow lane of science and technology, and to press Defra and FSA for fast and effective secondary legislation. Britain can take a genuinely world-leading position in the development and commercialisation of these transformational technologies. As the EU stalls, we must not let that opportunity slip, he argues.  

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Our food system is not broken!

Professor Mario Caccamo

Faced with claims that we should shift our agricultural systems to embrace more agroecological farming practices, NIAB chief executive Professor Mario Caccamo cautions against reverting to low-input, low-yielding agriculture. Our food system is not broken, he argues, pointing to the success of agricultural innovation not only in minimising the amount of extra land required to feed a rapidly growing world population, but also in reducing farming’s direct impact on the environment. We don’t need to change course, he says. We need greater access to more innovative farming technologies. We need more of the same, only faster. 

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Is UK agriculture facing a downward spiral?

Paul Temple

Mixed farmer Paul Temple warns that Defra’s Environmental Land Management (ELM) policies will not only affect UK food production, and increase our reliance on imports, they will also impact the infrastructure of the entire farming industry, for example in terms of its contribution to the rural economy, opportunities for the next generation, and its attractiveness for those investing in and bringing forward innovation. When the scientific evidence increasingly indicates that the best way to produce enough food, enhance biodiversity and tackle climate change is through high-yield, high-tech farming on as small an area as possible, the Government’s current policies risk irrevocably dismantling the fabric behind a productive farming industry, in favour of unproven and unmeasured environmental objectives. Defra’s own research has identified a high risk of displacement of food production as a result of yield-reducing ELM options, with unknown effects on either domestic food security or the environment. It’s time Ministers took heed and changed course, he argues.

 

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Fresh approach needed to secure UK organic seed supply

Dr Anthony Hopkins

Twenty years since a Government-funded database was established to help organic farmers source supplies of organically produced seed, and despite a long-term decline in the UK organic area, emergency derogations allowing organic growers to use non-organic seed are at a record high. This raises concerns over the need to maintain consumer confidence in the integrity of organic production, and to prevent unfair competition with conventional growers. In addition, the prospect of widespread uptake of new precision breeding techniques, which the organic industry prohibits, suggests alternative policy approaches are needed to ensure a reliable supply of certified organic seed in the future, argues BSPB head of policy Dr Anthony Hopkins.     

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Food labelling schemes are not helping consumers make informed sustainability choices, nor rewarding the most sustainable farmers

Dr Harriet Bartlett

 

In a study published recently in the journal Nature Food, a team of researchers from the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and São Paulo conclude that the way we classify farm types and label pork isn’t helping consumers to make informed decisions when it comes to buying more sustainable meat. Instead of singling out particular farm types or practices, the research highlights a need to focus on meaningful, measurable outcomes, and reward individual farms based on these. Lead author Dr Harriet Bartlett discusses the findings.  

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What is (risk) appropriate regulation of gene editing technology?

Graham Brookes & Stuart Smyth

Despite the much-hyped expectation that Europe was on course to follow other parts of the world in removing GMO-style regulatory requirements from gene edited (GE) crops, with EU elections looming and no agreement in sight the bloc now risks slipping back towards precautionary inertia. Summarising their recent peer-reviewed paper exploring risk-appropriate regulation for gene editing, agricultural economists Graham Brookes and Stuart Smyth warn that we must learn the lessons from past experience of divergent international regulation of agricultural innovations. The impact of over-precautionary EU regulation of gene editing will not only disadvantage European agriculture, but will also compromise global efforts to address urgent climate, biodiversity and food security challenges, they argue.     

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The importance of translating plant science into practice

Professor Mario Caccamo

 

The lack of long-term strategic funding for research organisations that are focused on translational research, as recently reported in the media, raises serious concerns about the future of applied crop science in the UK. Efforts to translate fundamental scientific discoveries into practical farming innovations which can boost productivity while addressing climate and biodiversity challenges are too slow and fragmented when compared to other countries. Bridging this ‘valley of death’ may require a major re-organisation of our R&D landscape, suggests NIAB chief executive Professor Mario Caccamo. 

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ELMS: It’s time for Defra to go back to the drawing board, and listen to the science

Matt Ridley

 

In the first of a series of essays examining the impact of farming innovations on food production and the environment, science writer, author and farmer Matt Ridley argues that the UK Government is squandering opportunities to accelerate the adoption of yield-boosting advances on Britain’s farms which could increase food production while freeing up land for nature. In pursuing a land-sharing approach to farm policy, Defra Ministers are failing to heed their own scientific advice, let alone the accumulating body of scientific evidence which supports a land-sparing approach as the most effective policy option to produce enough food while leaving room for nature, biodiversity and climate action.

 

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ELMS: Defra not heeding the multiple warning signs from their own science on land-sharing vs land-sparing. Is this a leap in the dark for Britain’s farmers?

 

A pro-innovation think tank is calling on MPs to investigate the impact of the Government’s environmental land management schemes (ELMS) on domestic food security after a Defra-funded scientific review identified multiple risks to both food production and the environment from its land-sharing policies.

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Sustainable Yield Growth - a gamechanger for the SDGs?

Dr Derrick Wilkinson

A 70% increase in global demand for food by 2050, set against urgent biodiversity and climate pressures, requires an unprecedented transformation of our food system. This challenge can in part be mitigated by reducing food losses and waste, and through dietary change. On their own, however, these measures will not be enough. Promoting sustainable yield growth provides the most powerful solution to meeting the growing food needs of billions of hungry people, while protecting biodiversity and improving the health of the ecosystems on which we all rely. If real progress is to be made toward the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris climate agreements, the technical and technological innovations at the heart of sustainable yield growth must be given the highest priority, argues retired UK economist Dr Derrick Wilkinson.

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False dawn for gene edited crops in the EU?

Steven E Cerier

With Europe’s agriculture sector in turmoil, as farmers stage mass protests against unworkable environmental restrictions, new breeding technologies such as gene editing could go a long way in helping the EU achieve its sustainability goals. Considering the bloc’s stringent, historical opposition to GMOs in agriculture, the European Parliament’s recent decision to adopt looser rules for the cultivation of NBTs is a significant step forward. But the regulatory regime being proposed is not likely to set the stage for a full-scale food revolution in the EU. Without a commitment to complete deregulation, Europe will remain a genetic engineering backwater for decades to come, argues retired international economist Steven Cerier.

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Why the Nuffield Council on Bioethics must revisit its report on genome editing in farmed animals 

Professor the Lord Trees & Lord Curry of Kirkharle 

Leading veterinarian Lord Trees and veteran farming champion Lord Curry of Kirkharle explain why they have called on the Nuffield Council on Bioethics to revise and update its 2021 report on the ethics of genome editing in farmed animals. They challenge the report’s characterisation of our food production system as ‘morally indefensible and unsustainable’, citing evidence of significant and ongoing improvements in livestock breeding and welfare improvements, driven by science. They also warn of the report’s disproportionately negative impact on the political and public debate, urging Nuffield to take greater account of the ethical implications of not embracing a technology with the potential to deliver solutions to previously intractable disease problems, such as bird flu in poultry, PRRS in pigs and BVD in cattle.   

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Focus on genetics and IP needed to boost Britain's horticulture sector

Peter Button

 

A recent one-off House of Lords inquiry into the challenges facing the horticulture industry, and the ensuing report entitled ‘Sowing the Seeds: A blooming English horticultural sector’, was a missed opportunity to put the essential genetic research, plant breeding and seed sectors which support the industry on a more secure footing, writes former UPOV Vice Secretary-General Peter Button.

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Crop biotechnology opponents are losing their war against genetic engineering, but the battle for science is not yet won

Steven E. Cerier

After years of reaping the tainted rewards of disinformation, the ground is shifting against anti-biotech activists. The world’s eight most populous countries now either grow GM crops and or have approved the deregulation of gene-edited crops. That’s more than 50 percent of the global population. But for a number of countries, GMOs still remain in regulatory limbo as a residue of the Frankenfood branding by anti-biotech campaigners. In an ideal, science-driven world, with overwhelming evidence that both transgenic and gene-edited crops pose no identifiable unique health or environmental threats, the two complementary breeding techniques would face minimal regulatory hurdles. We will eventually look back upon this period of hyped worries and predictions of impending environmental catastrophe and be mystified at what all the fuss was about, writes Steven Cerier.

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Harnessing the power of farm-level data

George Freeman MP

Former UK science minister George Freeman MP explains his longstanding passion, first inspired by the US Field to Market programme, for using farm-level data to drive improvements in sustainable, efficient food production, and to inform consumers about the environmental impact of their food choices. He reflects on his disappointment that the pivotal role envisaged for agrimetrics in the UK Agri-Tech Strategy has not yet transpired in practice, but highlights two recent developments which give cause for optimism that Britain may get back on track to mirror the US in harnessing the enormous potential of agricultural data and sustainability metrics.

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Europe’s farmers are fighting for the ability to continue to farm

David Zaruk

 

While there is no single issue behind the angry farmer protests taking place across Europe, at its heart is a frustration felt among farmers that society, governments and special interests have denigrated them and their profession. Activists blame them for climate change, environmental pollution and unsustainability, when farmers see themselves as the stewards of the land. Green restrictions like the EU Farm2Fork strategy will make farming unprofitable and perhaps no longer even possible, designed by cosmopolitan zealots with no idea what is required to bring a harvest in. Farmers are fighting for the ability to continue to farm. Among other actions to stop alienating farmers, Government regulators need to speak up for the science and data when activist groups spread lies about the safety of conventional agriculture tools, rather than quietly letting the fearmongers undermine public trust in our farmers, writes EU risk and science communications specialist David Zaruk.

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Is hi-tech, intensive livestock production more sustainable, more biosecure?

The Earl of Caithness

 

Faced with a ‘potential explosion’ of livestock disease in Britain, the Earl of Caithness highlights the enormous potential to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in farmed animals through genetic advances in which UK research is world-leading. He urges UK Ministers to speed up plans to allow the commercial use of precision breeding techniques in livestock so that these advances can be deployed as soon as possible to prevent animal suffering and to improve biosecurity. Noting that infectious diseases do not differentiate between animals reared intensively or extensively, he also refutes claims from environmental NGOs and animal welfare campaigners that more intensive forms of livestock production increase the risk of zoonotic diseases. In fact, the scientific evidence points in the opposite direction – intensive livestock farming may actually be more sustainable, and more biosecure.

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Gene editing: Is it time for full disclosure of all plant breeding methods?

Nigel Moore

Plant breeder Nigel Moore notes that the public debate around gene editing has highlighted a worrying lack of awareness among consumers that none of our familiar food crops are ‘in their natural form’, and that all have been adapted and improved for society’s benefit by science-based plant breeding. Frustrated that the enormous contribution of genetic innovation in improving the quality, availability and affordability of our food supply is routinely overlooked or airbrushed out by the time products reach the supermarket shelves, he emphasises the breeding industry’s commitment to transparency, and asks if it is time for full disclosure of all plant breeding methods?  Only by contextualising the way we currently improve our food crops, and by improving consumers’ access to information, can we hope to avoid a situation in which precision breeding is singled out as ‘different’ in an apparent vacuum of knowledge about other conventional breeding methods, he argues.  

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Throttle back on production to spite the supermarkets? Has UK farming finally lost the plot?

Paul Temple

Reflecting on discussions at this year’s Oxford Farming Conference, and with some SFI payment options reportedly offering a better return to landowners than farmers producing food, the idea that we should throttle back on production to tackle perceived imbalances in the value chain might turn out to be a catastrophic own-goal for our industry. A more secure and sustainable future for Britain’s farmers does not lie in dialling back production, battling against our customers, or relying on future taxpayer handouts for producing food less efficiently. We urgently need farm policies which benchmark, measure and reward improvements in sustainable, efficient food production, which respond to the COP28 agenda by setting more ambitious targets for domestic output and clear goals for reducing the environmental footprint of our food system, and which encourage the use of new agricultural technology and innovation to do so, argues mixed farmer Paul Temple.

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Radical rethink needed into how we regulate and incentivise the delivery of agricultural innovation in the UK

Professor Tina Barsby OBE

Expressed per head of population, or in relation to GDP, the United Kingdom leads the world in terms of high-citation academic publications in agriculture, according to a recent study. High-citation papers are defined as those most likely to support innovation and deliver impact. So why does UK leadership in academic science not translate into leadership in agricultural productivity growth, in which the UK continues to lag behind most other developed agricultural economies? And why has it not positioned the UK as a major destination for private sector investment in agricultural innovation – compared, for example, to Britain’s healthcare or medical life science sectors? Plant scientist Professor Tina Barsby offers some thoughts.

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Land use: OF&G claims for organic farming benefits don’t stack up

Daniel Pearsall & Dr Julian Little

Questioning claims in a recent policy paper that trebling the area of organic farmland in England will deliver benefits for the climate and biodiversity, Daniel Pearsall and Dr Julian Little point to the increasing weight of scientific evidence that optimising food production on as small a land area as possible is the most sustainable way to feed a growing population while leaving space for nature and carbon sequestration. Any increase in organic farming will inevitably reduce yields, requiring more land elsewhere to make up for the loss in production. Peer-reviewed research indicates that this would be at a cost to biodiversity and greenhouse gas emissions much greater than the on-farm benefit of organic practice. Consistent, science-based metrics of agricultural sustainability are urgently needed, taking account of a broad range of resource use and environmental indicators, related to the quantity for food produced. Only then will we truly understand the comparative sustainability impact of our food choices. For some it may make for uncomfortable reading, they argue.         

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IP in agriculture benefits everyone

Peter Button

Case studies from around the world show that introducing effective systems of IP protection in agriculture supports investment, innovation and economic growth in both developed and developing countries. It also promotes greater choice and diversity of crop varieties, and incentivises efforts to protect and conserve natural biodiversity. Far from demonising the role of intellectual property in farming, we should be celebrating and championing its contribution to a more productive, resilient and sustainable global food system, argues Peter Button, former UPOV Vice-Secretary General.

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Precision breeding: Food Standards Agency’s plans must not put England behind the EU

Karen Holt & Daniel Pearsall

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) deserves credit for the science-based progression in its thinking around the regulation of food and feed produced using precision breeding techniques such as gene editing. A recent public consultation issued by the FSA also gives cause for optimism that the Agency is thinking strategically about reform of restrictive GMO rules inherited from the EU. But with Europe fast catching up with England’s plans to deregulate gene editing techniques, could it be a case of two steps forward, one step back, ask Karen Holt and Daniel Pearsall. 

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Can agriculture save the planet? Insights from COP28 and beyond

Jack Bobo

The discussions at COP28 highlight the critical role of agricultural innovations in achieving food security and climate goals sustainably. The acceptance and adoption of these innovations by society are paramount. If the public does not support the introduction of such technologies, even the most groundbreaking scientific solutions will remain underutilised. Science tells us what we can do, but, ultimately, it is the public that tells us what we should do. Therefore, engaging consumers in discussions about food production is essential, writes Jack Bobo, Director of the University of Nottingham Food Systems Institute.

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Defra must publish a full impact assessment of farm policies on  domestic food production

Julian Sturdy MP

Highlighting concerns that a UK policy emphasis on lower-yield farming practices and land use change will inevitably take its toll on domestic food production, Julian Sturdy MP calls on Defra to publish a full impact assessment of its Environmental Land Management (ELM) and Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) policies on farm-level yields, national agricultural productivity growth, and domestic food self-sufficiency. It is not too late to adopt a data-led approach to measure and monitor the impact of our farm policies, he argues. The Agriculture Act includes specific provisions to equip farmers with the technology to generate, collect and share data, and to support productivity improvements. Together, these policy tools could and should be used not only to track the impact of government policies, but also to inform and drive sustainable gains in agricultural productivity, and to benchmark and reward farmers for genuine progress in reducing their environmental footprint per unit of food produced. It is vital that we adopt a clear-sighted, evidence-based approach to the development and implementation of future farm policies. Otherwise, we may risk sleepwalking into a food crisis, he warns.  

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Which farming system better preserves insect populations: organic or conventional?

Jon Entine

Science journalist Jon Entine challenges the simplistic narrative that modern intensive agriculture is steering us toward catastrophic declines in global insect populations, highlighting to a 2020 meta-study of 166 long-term surveys which points to a levelling off of insect declines in recent decades, and an increase in some species. Global population growth and rising affluence over coming decades will require a sharp increase in necessary food calories, which can only occur by expanding farmable acreage - or by increasing yields on existing farmland. Using technology to boost yields on currently farmed acres - growing more food on less land—is the most important action we can take to protect habitat and biodiversity, he suggests, warning that a turn away from efficient, intensive agriculture to accommodate the ideological fashion of our times could be a disaster for the fragile insect population.

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Regenerative agriculture - hype or hope?

Professor Mario Caccamo

As interest in regenerative agriculture reaches fever pitch across the value chain, NIAB is preparing the ground for a major research effort to deliver the science needed for a commercial scale-up of regen-ag, combining research leadership in soil science, variety testing, rotational agronomy, precision agronomy, cover cropping, data science and water use efficiency. A progressive, science-based approach, embracing innovation and harnessing the power of large-scale data, offers the potential for high-yielding, profitable crop production to go hand in hand with reducing agriculture’s environmental and climate impacts, writes Professor Mario Caccamo.       

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