Irish anti-GM groups have today announced a "Funeral Procession" in Dublin this Wednesday 12th for Ireland's good food sector following Teagasc's planting of outdoor GM potatoes. The planned procession will depart from Stephen’s Green (Wolfe Tone Memorial) at 12.00 pm on Wednesday and will arrive at Agriculture House via Dawson Street and Molesworth Street where "a requiem service will take place."The groups involved in the march which include IOFGA and NO2GM, plan to present a spade to Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to ask him to put a stop to Teagasc's GM trials. I very much doubt this is going to happen after the EPA have approved the trials to go ahead but protesting gives the many individuals and groups in opposition to GM potatoes a chance to air their grievances. Last week they applied in the high court for a means to tackle tackle Teagasc's plans without GM protestors being personally liable for the costs of the action. They lost the case but I hear there are more challenges to follow so watch out for updates here.
In this week's edition of the Irish Farmer's Journal I'm away from the topic of food and GM to write about farmers, their vets and what the large animal practice sector may look like in future years. During Ireland's boom, equine and small animal practices thrived and there was a fear that in some rural areas vet cover would decrease to the point of creating difficulties for many farmers. This was borne out in some counties such as Mayo but it's clear now that there is a re-balancing in the sector.
Large animal practice is thriving and female vets are very much in evidence on farms. As they make up the largest number of veterinary students we will see a slow shift this direction, and happily, all the vets I spoke with in my piece saw a vibrant future in on-farm work. There have been difficulties in the past between vets and farmers (largely relating to cost of services) but I feel it's a relationship becoming less adversarial and more in tune with each other's needs. Animal health on farms and resulting productivity is becoming more and more important, and farmers and vets are clearly working more together in weeding out problems like BVD before they arise. Check out the piece in the Journal and it's available on their smartphone app version which is a brilliant news service. Coming up in later in the series I'll be dealing with food price inflation, problems for Irish pig farmers and Bord Bia's Origin Green - what the scheme means at farm level.