Farmers Weekly columnist Matthew Naylor has found an unlikely role as “peacemaker”, having stepped into a spat between Observer restaurant critic Jay Rayner and Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett.

Matthew has been attempting to find some common ground between the two, following their public disagreement over farming and food production.

Mr Rayner has been championing “modern agriculture” in tandem with the show he presents on Channel 4, Food: What Goes in Your Basket?

“If we are to survive the coming food security storm, we will have to embrace unashamedly industrial methods of farming,” Mr Rayner wrote recently.

Such comments brought a swift response from Peter Melchett, who branded his views “bunk”.

“It is the proponents of industrialised farming who are narrow-minded, not the citizens, scientists, international agencies and governments who recognise that the future of food lies in agri-ecological systems,” he declared.

“Maybe,” Matthew wrote on his blog, “they are both right. Jay Rayner is perhaps correct that food production will need to remain centralised, conducted with large scale and using more technology. Lord Melchett is also correct that crop producers will look to biology rather than chemicals to solve production problems. The sooner these squabbles stop and we all start moving towards this future, the better.”

Leaving a comment on Matthew’s blog, Mouth of the Wash, Jay added: “It is entirely possible to be large scale and sustainable. The two are not mutually exclusive.”

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