The EU has a unique ability to tie itself in knots over the simplest decisions.

Weeks after it was forced to ignore member states playing politics over glyphosate by forcing through approval, it is running into deeper water over gene editing. Despite efforts, including rebranding these novel genomic techniques or NGTs, its efforts to fast track agreements are facing opposition from a broad green lobby.

This makes it hard for the EU to demonstrate a commitment to science; it makes it even harder for it to convince farmers and others there are realistic alternatives to the agrochemicals it wants to arbitrarily cut back by 50% by 2030. Instead, its voting system and cumbersome decision making processes are being used to slow a technology even its critics know cannot be blocked. Instead, their tactic is delay, in the hope that evidence can be manufactured to block NGTs.

The latest attack is the organic movement. It has seen sales fall through the spike in food price inflation but is is still buoyed up by the EU's unrealistic target to have 30 per cent of farm land organic by 2030. This group is feeding public hysteria by wrongly linking NGTs to an attack on 'genetic perfection'.

This is an attempt to create the same concerns as those around genetically modified (GM) food, despite the two being as different as the proverbial apples and pears. NGTs are about accelerating within a genome what plant breeders have done for centuries, while GM is about mixing genes. Both have science behind them, but if you do not want GM, which is the case in Europe, NGTs are the logical response.

This is a battle the EU cannot afford to lose. It cannot allow science to be blocked by minority groups with a close to evangelical zeal against progress, and it cannot allow European agriculture to be competitively disadvantaged.

It is tempting in a post-Brexit world to conclude this is not a problem for the UK. But the EU remains our closest and best market and in a GM world our best ally in the production of quality food. Despite Brexit the UK and EU have similar production methods, which result in a higher cost agricultural industry. This is why others are so keen to access the European market.

Agreement on NGTs is also important because our research bodies need to work closely with their counterparts in the EU to give technology the scale needed to deliver meaningful research results. Take one of the key tools out of the box and you are left with the scientific equivalent of battling with one hand tied behind your back.

That is why, for all of agriculture, it is vital the EU does not allow the best science available for a long time to be demonised because of a political reluctance to confront myopic special interest groups.

On the theme of Brexit, most surveys of UK exporting businesses suggest the EU remains their most prized market. They also point to more interest in that market than in trade deals with other countries the government delivers from Brexit. The EU has ratified its trade deal with New Zealand and this should come into force early next year, after ratification in New Zealand. This process was easy in Europe because it protected agriculture from 'sensitive' imports while opening export possibilities.

Products protected were meat, dairy, ethanol, and sweetcorn. While free trade deals are about dismantling support, tariffs, and duties will remain on these sensitive commodities. Without these, this trade deal would have faced the same fate as the Mercosur deal with South America, which has been blocked from ratification in Europe for years.

The EU deal with New Zealand contrasts with the UK approach. The EU is less politically desperate for deals. London needs these to prove its vision of a successful Brexit, while as a major trade bloc with massive trade deals in place, the EU can afford to play a long game.

It recently saw a deal with Australia's founder because it would not give way to agriculture. Its deal with New Zealand offers agriculture more protection than the kith and kin deal with that country agreed upon by the UK. In short, the UK could offer a trade deal that would be devastating for agriculture, but the levers are not there to prevent it being agreed.

That is the essential difference between London and Brussels when it comes to trade.