THE BISHOP of Ely, Anthony Russell, has been elected president of the Royal Agricultural Society of England.

Dr Russell is well known in the farming community as a speaker and commentator and is the Church of England‘s spokesman on farming and countryside matters.

“I hope I can raise awareness of the human issues in farming during my presidency,” he said.

“Much is written about the triple bottom line – economic, environmental and social. However, social issues always seem to receive much less attention.

“As the CAP reforms are implemented, there will inevitably be personal pain, especially in the tenanted sector.”

On the issue of GM crops he said significant questions remained unanswered. But he added: “I believe progress can be made when there are more obvious benefits to people and their environment from adopting GM crops.”

Dr Russell succeeds HRH the Duke of Gloucester and will hold the post of president for 1 year, commencing on Oct 1 2004.