Newbury Business Today


Thursday, November 4, 2021

Newbury Weekly News


FARM BLOG: Gene editing breeds an invigorated debate in farming

KEVIN Prince has wide experience of farming and rural business in Berkshire and across southern England as a director in the Adkin consultancy based near Wantage. His family also run a diversified farming operation with commercial lets, holiday cottages, and 800 arable acres.

patents being registered and inaccessibility of the new genetic lines to those who

won’t pay to use them. It won’t be done out of

benevolence or the desire to create a new flower that has a colour or scent like no other, one that can wow the crowds at the Chelsea Flower Show in some crazy “garden” creation. GE, like GM, is all about creating species with traits that make them better at what they do. That’s why cereal plants with shorter stems were developed through a natural selection process after the last war. They put their energy into producing less straw and more grain, becoming weather resistant while helping to feed the world. GE selects what’s there naturally and breeds traits into future generations to create something different but still natural, although at a much faster rate than the old methods. GM, on the other hand, brings genetic material from entirely different species and creates a new one with alien traits.

IF you have a favourite rose, dog breed or any other preference in a wider range of species then you have an interest in the effects of gene editing. It’s a topic that has become the subject of a great debate in the farming world, but one that has been largely passed over in the petrol and shopping queues, with worries over pigs being put down but not to be eaten or whether there will be enough turkeys for Christmas dominating headlines. GE and GM [genetic modification] are very different, and not just because the second letter of the acronym changes. It’s not that which brings such violent protest against GM, but something deeper. GE has been going on for years, but was always called

selective breeding. If you wanted a Jack Russell in preference to a French bulldog – avoid either, one snaps, the other wheezes – my advice is to get a Labrador that will love you to death and put on weight just like you do, prompting another walk in the woods. The thing is that the process in developing these breeds aforementioned small dogs. But it’s a topic you should get your teeth into and research so you understand the vital differences between GE and GM for yourselves. I’m not going to express an opinion on either. GE undertaken by scientists with a commercial interest will, like GM, lead to took time. Effects could be seen and the worst traits hopefully avoided, except in the case of the

A French bulldog

quality of our produce. Any whiff of mucking about with ‘nature’ hints at being no better than the stuff we are resisting coming in under new trade deals. It’s a complicated issue with a wide array of ramifications and will be a hard sell to be

They are resistant to certain chemicals that kill weed species, which is why crop science and agri-chemicals combine to become such big business. The problem UK farmers face is that we sell on the natural

understood and accepted. Adopting it without microscopic examination of the consequences, despite the UK Government endorsing it in principle, could have dire long-term effects on UK farming.

Five Ways to Grow Your Business


● Think outside the box: Aim for sustainable and that’s all you’ll achieve. Instead, seek a strategy that helps you look past this stage. ● Not all opportunities are equal: Scaling too quickly puts pressure on cash flow, people, etc. Be choosy when it comes to new business. ● Image isn’t everything: Don’t forget the value of genuine, well-maintained customer relationships. ● Avoid being master of none: There’s a reason you started the company and it probably wasn’t a love of pitching for business. Identify your own strengths and hire talented people to do the rest. ● Keep one eye on the future: As Brexit approaches, ‘business as usual’ may become ‘business by accident’ as companies find themselves stumbling into new markets. Your strategy will only remain relevant if you revisit it often.

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