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Weekly Overview: Oxford Conference Tackles Challenging Issues

08 January 2015

GLOBAL - EU red tape and the making of decisions and regulations have some in for criticism from some of the speakers at the Oxford Farming Conference this week, while challenging issues such as climate change and a lack of R&D funding have also been explored. Highly pathogenic avian flu has been reported in domestic poultry in the US and Asia and people in Egypt and China have also succumbed to the disease.

The annual Oxford Farming Conference is taking place in that fine British university city this week, from where Editor-in-Chief, Chris Harris, has been reporting.

The UK has called for a rethink on the 'three crop rule', which is part of the greening arrangement within the recent reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The move is part of the British government’s bid to reduce the burden of red tape and regulation on the farming sector.

Environment and agriculture secretary, Liz Truss, told the Conference that more decisions need to be taken in Britain for the benefit of British producers.

She added that she is also working to change regulations covering pesticides and cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops, which she said should be made on scientific evidence alone.

Agriculture minister, George Eustice, added that there should be room for decisions to be taken on a national level working in a European framework.

Scotland's Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead, said that a potential EU referendum was one of the biggest threats to British farming. He said that leaving the EU would cost the farming community nearly £20 billion in support from the CAP but called for a fairer share of the proceeds of the CAP and called for a simpler system.

Lord John Krebs addressed the Conference on the challenges and opportunities presented by climate change. Among the measures deserving serious consideration is GM crops, he said.

Also at the Conference was the launch of a new report that says increased productivity in British agriculture is directly related to R&D and that the sector needs to focus more on both public and private research in order to grow.

A greenhouse gas calculator developed at Aberdeen University has won the Practice with Science Award run by the Oxford Farming Conference.

Since our last newsletter, bird flu has been in the headlines, with outbreaks of the highly pathogenic disease in domestic poultry in Taiwan, Japan and the US and a low-path variant detected at markets in Seoul and Hong Kong. There have also been several cases of influenza in people – H5N1 in Egypt and H7N9 in China.

A new study from China indicates that the prevalence and variation of H9N2 influenza virus in farmed poultry could provide an important early warning of novel virus reassortants with pandemic potential.

A very happy New Year and good wishes for 2015 to all supporters of ThePoultrySite around the world!

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

Top image via Shutterstock

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