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A tale of two Oxfords…

Peter Melchett: In Oxford this week, two major farming conferences are underway. The newer, forward-looking Oxford Real Farming Conference is discussing innovations in technology that are needed for farming to face the challenges of achieving massive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, tackling the horrendous problems of diet-related ill health, and restoring beauty, colour and wildlife to our farmed countryside. Meanwhile, speakers at the much older Oxford Farming Conference seem stuck in a time-warp where for decades almost the only new development in agriculture worth discussing is GM crops, and where an annual attack on organic farming seems to be obligatory.

08 January 2015 | 3 Comments | Recommended by 5

I’m dreaming of a GM-free Christmas

Elisabeth Winkler: Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is a GM-free Christmas. So make my Christmas dinner organic, please. I don’t want to eat genetically modified (GM) food at Christmas, or anytime. In fact, I resent even having to write that sentence. Genetic modification has no place in my world. It is an outdated technology which messes with nature at its most basic 'building block' level, by inserting a gene from another species (plant, animal, bacterium and/or virus) into a plant, thus 'modifying' it.

08 December 2014 | 5 Comments | Recommended by 16

Armchair farming...

Marianne Landzettel: ... is not a synonym for a journalist writing about agriculture. An organic farmer I recently met coined the phrase. Jim Dufosee raises sheep and beef cattle in Wiltshire and grows feed. When he switched to organic it wasn’t necessarily because he was one of the converted. Back then there were financial incentives to do so. "Today I just know I’m doing the right thing", he says, and he wouldn’t go back to conventional farming even if they paid him.

26 March 2014 | 1 Comments | Recommended by 7

Wake up call to health, mine and the planet’s.

Lynda Brown: Two weeks ago, out of the blue, I woke up in the middle of the night with a throbbing foot, swollen and painful around the big toe area. I won’t bore you with the details, but my GP – who took one look – reckons it’s probably gout. Moi? !!!! ( My diet is A1, mainly organic, don’t do processed food , hardly drink, am pretty skinny, and exercise regularly.)

21 May 2013 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 4

GM betrayal....

Lynda Brown: M&S, the Co-op, Tesco, and Sainsbury's have announced that they no longer require their producers to use non GM feed for farm animals. The excuse is that there isn't sufficient non GM feed to go around and anyway, it's not detectable in things like eggs, milk or chicken, i.e. there's no need to worry, it's all perfectly safe sort of thing. So, forget all that you're worth it rubbish - we're clearly not.

14 April 2013 | 7 Comments | Recommended by 13

Frankenfish - yuk!

Lynda Brown: When it comes to social media, I’m a real laggard (OK, so un-cool, but honestly I’d much rather go for a walk or dance tango any day than whitter and twitter my life away). But even I admit, it can be awesomely powerful, especially when it galvanises public opinion into a nice juicy petition with thousands of names on it; so much so, it’s fast becoming the peaceful and effective way to voice your concerns over a particular issue. And it doesn’t get more disgusting than the thought of salmon, genetically engineered to be obese (life is full of ironies, isn’t it?). The story so far is that the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved (on paper), GE salmon that will grow twice as fast as normal Atlantic salmon.

22 January 2013 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 6

Blythman is brilliant in Belfast

Jim Kitchen: It was towards the end of the evening when we’d invited questions from the audience and someone asked about GM food – the response flowed with authority, evidence and complete conviction. Joanna Blythman was in Belfast, appearing at a Soil Association event as part of the inaugural Restaurant Week, an initiative of Belfast City Council. A sold-out audience of forty lucky people had enjoyed the splendid hospitality and exquisite local organic food provided by Niall McKenna at his celebrated restaurant and heard Joanna talk about her latest book, What to Eat.

16 October 2012 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 6

The Gates Foundation puts a new spin on altruism

Amy Leech: It didn’t come as a surprise to hear that billionaires Bill and Melinda Gates had decided to throw £6.4 million at a problem that doesn’t need solving. Bill’s spent all his life looking for quick technical fixes - why change the habit of a lifetime for the sake of a bit of common sense? No seriously, thanks Bill. On behalf of the UK Government and the GM companies - thank you. Because our cash strapped researchers (who are already getting just £42m from the UK taxpayers) and 'our short of just about everything' Government, really need your support. We’re desperate to lead in scientific research you see, it’ll help us get out of the recession. And as for the GM companies, they can’t afford to do their own research, so it’s great that you’re paying for it for them.

19 July 2012 | 193 Comments | Recommended by 11

The GM nightmare... again

Lynda Brown: One of the many reasons I'm committed to organic food and farming is its stance on GM: it forbids the use of GM crops and ingredients in organic farming systems and food. It's always seemed to me to be an incredibly noble and brave stance. A dozen or so years after the first furore over 'Frankenstein Foods' engaged the nation, nothing has happened to make me change my mind. Newsnight this week and the Independent yesterday morning gives you the flavour of this well worn debate going nowhere. So, what have we learnt in the intervening years?

25 May 2012 | 1 Comments | Recommended by 2

Caroline Spelman's video link...

Tim Young: ...seems to have split opinion on the conference floor. My fellow blogger Ed Dowding has just called it 'dissapointingly political', while one of the Omsco representatives (I think Huw Bowles, but don't quote me) was much more positive. Perhaps the best comment was from panellist Jan Hutchinson, who thought the Secretary of State was setting a new record for simultaneous smiling and talking.

09 February 2011 | 4 Comments | Recommended by 10

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