Around the country in pictures
This week, our photographers were in Dungarvan Mart, Gortatlea Mart, Co Wexford and Claremorris, Co Mayo.

You can send in your pictures to us at readerspics@farmersjournal.ie or tweet us @IFJ_PictureDesk

Hijacking of term ‘sustainable’ by anti-GMO groups misleading – UCC scientists
Scientists from University College Cork have said it is grossly misleading of anti-GMO groups to equate GMO cultivation-free status with green, sustainable food production.

The hijacking of the terms ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ by anti-genetically modified organism (GMO) groups is misleading, according scientists at University College Cork (UCC). The criticism comes in the wake of the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) ruling that organisms obtained by gene-editing are also GMOs.

Earlier in July, the Irish Government also passed legislation that would allow Ireland to opt out of any future GMO cultivation in the EU. Speaking at the time of the announcement, Denis Naughten, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, said GMO free-status was a key part of Ireland’s green reputation.

"I believe it is critically important that Ireland takes whatever steps are necessary to maintain our GMO cultivation-free status, which is a key element of our international reputation as a green, sustainable food producer,” he commented.

Gene-editing

Dr Barbara Doyle Prestwich and Dr Eoin Lettice of UCC have said it is grossly misleading to equate "GMO cultivation-free status with green, sustainable food [production]". They have organised the International Association for Plant Biotechnology’s (IAPB) congress, which is taking place in Dublin this week. It is their hope it will provide an opportunity to demonstrate the scientific evidence on the safety and economic viability of utilising biotechnology, such as gene-editing, in agriculture.

“The next generation of gene-edited crops has the potential to cut climate emissions in agriculture and boost global food security. Such crops are far more ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ than they are given credit for and should be utilised as part of any sustainable food production system, including organic agriculture,” said Dr Lettice.

He added that in 2016 alone fewer insecticide sprays due to the adoption of GM crops resulted in a reduction of 26.7bn kg of CO2 emissions – equivalent to removing 11.9m cars off the road.

Read more

EU deals body blow to gene-editing technology

Wheat genome assembly could ‘drive disruptive innovation’

Weekly weather: big variation in rainfall across the country
Normal rainfall for the time of year is expected along west and northwest coasts this week, but only around 10% of normal levels could fall in south and southeast coastal areas.

Met Éireann are forecasting Monday to be mostly cloudy and misty, with patches of rain, drizzle and fog. There will be dry intervals in many areas too, with maximum temperatures of 17 to 22 degrees.

It will be dry countrywide for a time on Monday night, but cloud will thicken in the west and northwest with rain arriving before dawn in the coastal fringes of Connacht and west Ulster.

On Tuesday, it will be mostly cloudy in Connacht, Ulster and west Munster with outbreaks of rain and drizzle. There will be generally dry conditions further south and east with some sunshine.

Met Éireann say that, although there is some uncertainty, rain in the west and north should spread southeastwards on Tuesday night.

In the west and north west it will be fresher and sunnier conditions on Wednesday. Cloud and outbreaks of rain and drizzle will linger further south and east before clearing later in the day. Top temperatures are forecast from 15 to 20 degrees.

A cooler showery regime is likely on Thursday and Friday. Some of the showers could be heavy with a risk of thundery downpours at times but there will be spells of sunshine too. Met Éireann forecast that westerly winds will be fresh and gusty in the north with maximum temperatures dropping down into the mid to high teens.

Farming forecast

Rain

Over the next 7 days, weather will be very mixed, with around normal rainfall expected along west and northwest coasts, but the bulk of the country is expected to be drier than normal. Rainfall will be less than 60% of normal levels in most parts and possibly only around 10% of normal in south and southeast coastal areas.

Temperatures

Temperatures over the coming week will be variable. It will be quite warm and humid up to and including Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, but it will become cooler and fresher from later Wednesday.

Sunshine

Over the next 7 days, sunshine will remain below normal, with a good deal of cloud over the next few days and a greater chance of some bright or sunny spells after midweek.

Drying Conditions

The will be reasonably good drying at times over the next week, in between rain or showers.

Spraying

Opportunities for spraying will be limited, but there will be some, especially in the south and east.

Field Conditions

Soil moisture deficits remain high in central and eastern parts of Munster and over much of the southern half of Leinster, (between 50 and 70 mm), leading to some restriction in growth and little or no change is expected in the coming week.

Soil moisture deficits in Connacht, west Ulster and along the west Munster coast, as well as in the extreme southeast, are much lower, even below zero in parts of Ulster and Connacht, where some soils are becoming saturated.

Read more

Spike in grass growth bringing Newford Farm back on track

All rain still very welcome in Kilkenny

Listen: "The looming fodder crisis could be a major stressor"

3,200-year-old cheese discovered in ancient Egyptian tomb
Scientists have been able to identify a previously unknown material found in a tomb in Egypt as cheese, that was made from sheep or goat milk.

Scientists have discovered what they believe to be the oldest-ever sample of cheese in an ancient Egyptian tomb. The discovery, made by a research team based in the Peking University in China, was published by the Analytical Chemistry journal.

Found in a jar within the tomb, the previously unidentified material has now been named as a dairy product obtained by mixing sheep/goat and cow milk. Using biomolecular techniques, the researchers were able to detect the presence of certain peptides, in this case ones that are specific to cheese.

Also detected in the sample was the presence of Brucella melitensis. This is the main cause of brucellosis in humans, and represents a natural pathogen for sheep and goats. Previous to this there have only been indirect signs that the disease was prevalent in ancient Egypt, but the discovery represents the first direct sign.

High-ranking official

The cheese was discovered in the tomb of Ptahmes. He was mayor of Memphis and high-ranking official under Pharaohs Sethi I and Ramses II from 1290 BC to 1213 BC. His tomb was originally unearthed in 1885, but was lost under shifting sands at the end of the 19th century, before reappearing in 2010.

Read more

‘Once in a generation’ – Farmers Journal subeditor makes ancient discovery