Farmer Focus: What are the unintended costs of GM crops?

I was feeling rather smug about the amount of blackgrass that had germinated in the fields destined for autumn cropping due to our delayed drilling strategy.

However, now I’m wishing we had started a week earlier, as to date we have only completed 25% of the wheat and beans we had intended to sow this autumn.

We’ve also resorted to ploughing most of our fields planned for spring crops, as shallow cultivation on our damp soils is no longer a possibility. This will result in extra cost for the arable enterprise.

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The wet weather has meant we have begun tackling the long list of winter jobs early, including cleaning 130t of spring barley seed and 60t of spring oat seed.

These have been tested by Niab and have come back disease-free and with good germination scores, so perfect for home saving.

I feel cautiously positive that we will now not be crashing out of the EU, with the certification situation that a no deal could have left organic producers in.

I do, though, have concerns about the government’s rhetoric about new trade deals promising cheaper food for all and the possibility of lowering our food standards.

I also feel cautious about the enthusiasm for GM crops post Brexit, and although I am not against the technology – subject to environmental protection – I do think we have to be aware of the possible unintended additional costs of growing GM crops in the UK.

These include the cost of segregation in our own stores and in feed mills, issues of in-field and inter-farm contamination and the legal ramifications, as well as the potential loss of marketing opportunities.

The last thing we need is our margins to be eroded any more than they are now.