Gene editing classification could solve GMO debate
Michal Bobek, from the European Court of Justice, has expressed his belief that new gene editing techniques could pave the way for GM in Europe.

New gene editing technology should be exempt from EU regulations which govern genetically modified organisms (GMOs), according to the European Court of Justice Advocate General Michal Bobek.

Bobek argues that new forms of gene editing, known as New Plant Breeding Techniques (NPBTs), should be considered exempt from EU regulations governing GMOs because it doesn’t involve foreign plant bodies being inserted into the genetic sequence.

CRISPR-Cas is an example of one such genetic engineering technique, which facilitates crop breeding by making cuts at specific locations within the plant genome without introducing foreign genes.

The subsequent repair of these cuts by the plants’ endogenous repair mechanisms then introduce precise changes.

GMO debate

There are conflicting opinions on GMOs in Europe, with some farmers arguing that there is a lack of consumer knowledge on the safety of GMO crops and their potential in the European farming sector.

There has been consistent resistance from some member states on the renewal of pesticides such as glyphosate, and many farmers argue that the introduction of pest-resistant GM crops would answer the pesticide issue.

In the EU, GMO crops are classed as ‘products’ and in principle they enjoy free movement around all 28 member states, but countries currently resist and contest their movement and growth mainly due to consumer concerns.

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Tánaiste open to more time for Brexit
The Tánaiste Simon Coveney has stated that theEU is willing to extend the transition period after the UK leaves the EU ahead of this week's leaders summit in Brussels.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has told the Irish Farmers Journal that the EU is willing to extend the transition period after the UK leaves the EU.

This would allow more time for negotiations on future trading relationships between the EU and UK, and possibly avoid implementation of the backstop agreed last December. The UK's wish for a time limit on the backstop was described as a “new ask” by the Tánaiste .

Coveney added that it is imperative that Northern Ireland remains in regulatory alignment with the EU to protect the all-island economy.

The EU will release contingency plans next week explaining the implications of a no-deal Brexit in three areas: aviation, food standards and citizen’s rights.

'No back-sliding' – IFA

IFA president Joe Healy urged EU leaders to ensure there is no back-sliding on the backstop and no time limit, thereby guaranteeing that a hard border will not return at any point.

While the IFA says Irish farmers' interests lie in in maintaining full access and frictionless trade Ireland and Britain, the UK government intends to leave the single market and customs union and conduct its own trade policy.

This would open the door to Britain directly competing with the EU in future trade deals, undercutting EU import tariffs and granting additional import quotas, for example to the US, Mercosur, Australia, New Zealand, Canada etc. That would be totally unacceptable – Joe Healy

The IFA has also raised concerns that the UK is aiming to avoid compliance with EU regulations and standards on marketing, labelling, GMOs, pesticides, geographic indications, food fraud and other CAP requirements.

With the outcome of talks uncertain, Healy has called for both a direct aid scheme for farmers to compensate potential devaluation of sterling, and a special fund to offset the negative impacts of Brexit. The size of the fund should be flexible, in order to adapt to a soft or hard Brexit as needed, he added.

Make K application a priority after extra silage cuts – Teagasc
Speaking at the Teagasc national soil fertility conference, Mark Plunkett advised farmers to apply K in fields where two or three silages cuts had been taken.

As favourable conditions allowed for additional late cuts of silage, farmers attending the Teagasc soil fertility conference were advised to apply K to those fields.

Speaking at the event, Mark Plunkett, Teagasc soil and plant nutrition specialist said autumn was a good time to apply both K and lime especially where extra grass cuts were taken. He added that by doing so farmers could reduce the likelihood of grass tetany issues and N loss in spring.

He said: “Intensively cut grass silage removes significant quantities of nutrients at harvest time and may reduce soil fertility. Now is a good time to review soil test results and develop a fertiliser plan in time for the year ahead.”

Also speaking at the conference, Dr John Spink said the management of soil fertility levels should be a priority for every dairy and drystock farmer. Dr Spink who is head of the crops environment and land-use programme at Teagasc encouraged all farmers to follow the five steps for effective soil fertility management.

These five steps include; soil testing, soil pH and lime, targeting index 3 for P and K, using slurry and manure and achieving a nutrient balance.

Dr David Wall of Teagasc said that while fertiliser inputs represented a significant cost they are necessary to drive high grass, milk and meat outputs.

He said: “Getting the basics correct by applying lime, maximising slurry and manure nutrient resources and selecting the right fertiliser product, and applying it at the right rate and right time will go a long way to improving production, profitability and sustainability on grassland farms.”

Full conference report in tomorrow’s Irish Farmers Journal

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Two arrested over stolen vehicles parts
Gardaí in Meath have arrested two men in connection with an investigation into stolen vehicle parts.

Two men have been arrested by Gardaí in Meath as part of an investigation into stolen vehicles parts. The arrests were made after Gardaí recovered a large amount of suspected stolen vehicle parts from a number of premises in Meath and Kildare.

The men, aged 34 and 24, were arrested and detained in Trim station. They were due expected to appear before Trim District Court today.

The operation involved the Stolen Motor Vehicle Investigation Unit, Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigations supported by the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau and local based Gardaí.

Further arrests

Earleir this week, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) raided a suspected hiding place for stolen vehicles and arrested four men in Mayobridge, Co Down.

Police said four men aged 59, 51, 40 and 37 were arrested at the scene on suspicion of handling property believed to have been stolen in the Republic of Ireland.