Brexit Can Present Opportunities in Agri-Tech

Green Brexit: UK to lead the way in Agri-Tech

The UK is beginning to realise there is great potential beyond the chains of Brussels. Environment Secretary Michael Gove is working to push the positives that Brexit will bring to British Environmental Regulations. When the Cabinet Minister is not cracking down on single-use plastics, he is pushing for reform for British farmers. The Department of the Environment is now drafting a ‘Green Brexit’ which will raise our environmental standards and present countless, vital opportunities for our agri-tech community.

Whilst it is difficult to pin-point exactly what will happen beyond March 2019, Britain is already exploring ground-breaking developments in the use of data, technology and breeding techniques. A new wave of farmers has been willing to explore a whole multitude of methods, crop rotations and farming management styles. These developments will be essential if Britain is to bring sustainable, safe, healthy and affordable food to the world’s ever-growing population, both domestically and internationally.

We must look towards a new generation of genetic technology so that crops can develop in a sustainable and safe way; we must develop these technologies to make ourselves more competitive.

Whilst Europe shuns farming innovations, Britain has an opportunity to embrace them and Brexit is the catalyst for this change. Genetically Modified Food, although controversial, are something the UK must look towards in the future. There have been questions for years about the safety of GM crops and such concerns have been addressed by weighty scientific evidence and global experience. Looking at the EU however, the levels of research on GM crops are low and this is mostly because of political campaigns in the EU. Britain must not allow ourselves to be stifled by emotions and political campaigns when we leave the European Union, we must encourage innovation and examine all types of research.

Why this innovation is so crucial is because new evidence released today shows that Britons’ perspective on GM foods is beginning to shift. Populus polling published today has found that young Britons are open to the use of GM and gene edited techniques, with only around 20 per cent expressing negative views, while there is significant support for other new farming methods such as the use of drones automated tractors. This younger generation, immersed in technology and aware of its potential, is excited to the see innovation in the countryside and within their food supply.

Brexit gives British farmers the opportunity to grow in agri-science sector and appeal to this new generation of consumers. Britain must view this as a chance to attract more inward investment, grow research and development work. In order to do so, we will need to establish fully independent regulatory system, based on the most rigorous scientific evidence so that we continue to be recognised globally as of the highest standard. Under such system both UK and global consumers could be confident that UK products meet the highest safety environmental standards.

Michael Gove’s vision for British farming is ambitious but well within our grasp. The pressures of climate change, population growth, biodiversity, competitive trade and economics mean farmers need new tools and skills to succeed; innovative agri-science must be part of the vision. New technology, overseen by best practice regulation, can help British farmers and researchers work alongside the Government to implement a Green Brexit.