TWO EVENTS conspired this week to make us think that there's a little chink of light showing through the technology blockage with regard to GM technology and the use of important pesticides. Is there a more sensible, science-led mentality taking shape?

First off, the new PM, Boris Johnson, has said that there will be a review of Government's position on GM technology. As you would expect, the environmental lobby is saying 'a BIG no' while the scientific spectrum has given it a 'qualified yes'. The second, was the fact that courts in the UK overturned a ban on metaldehyde slug pellets – for which many will heave a huge sigh of relief. Not only were these products cheap, they were also effective and safe when used properly, plus given that a wet harvest is underway, conditions for the little blighters will be optimum this year.

It's not outwith the possibility that both of these actions are being carefully timed to give a solid two fingers up to the EU, but there are also constitutional issues given the Scottish Government's vehement opposition to GM. In any case, the industry has much to mull over. GM will be the biggest topic, but we know that Scottish research institutes have much to offer.

The JHI fruit breeding programme at Balruddery, near Dundee, is a talisman. Almost entirely free from any single large investor – save the Government – this has allowed researchers the freedom to be totally objective and ruthless in the varietal selection process.

Had such been part of the 'original' GM push, which was driven almost entirely by commercial and vested interest via large companies, we might never have had the 'Frankenfood' headlines which blighted much of the good works that were possible.

Think of blight-free potatoes, mildew resistant grain, and even worm resistant livestock, and you get the drift. All these things were and are possible, but have been tainted by being driven by business interest, rather than industry/consumer objective.

We have world-renowned agricultural expertise in Scotland and it would be a waste if it were not put to good use by taking the industry forward into a brave new world where disease and pestilence were not allowed to thrive.

Beef uproar

ON THIS page, our Farm View writer, James Porter, is in riotous mood (see right). His thoughts were written before events in the South of Ireland this week, where the farming industry was blockading meat processing plants in protest at low beef prices.

It is not outwith the bounds of possibility that the same could happen here. Beef finishers have been under the lash for most of this year and are currently thought to be losing up to £200 on every animal. Only the churlish would proffer greater efficiency as a route out.

Much of the beef industry here has little to learn in terms of feeding, growth rates and genetics, so it would be fatuous to ignore them. It is only a matter of time before farmers here take similar action and that is the first step in a journey towards the food riots envisaged by James Porter. Politicians who choose to ignore this, will do so at their own peril.