Anthea McIntyre MEP is continuing to push forward the farming technology agenda with two high-profile events in the European Parliament.
She has co-hosted a forum on The Future of Farming which brought together a range of experts in Brussels to explore the sector’s great challenges and opportunities.
She also recently took part in a panel examining The Impact of Regulation on Agricultural Innovation.
Contributors at the Future of Farming event included Professor Simon Blackmore of Harper Adams University, Shropshire, and Edwin Hecker of the Internet of Food and Farm 2020. They spoke on the benefits of precision agriculture, while further panels and round-tables covered new plant-breeding techniques, societal challenges, and how new technology could improve farming systems.
Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, was uniquely well-placed to contribute to both events. She has produced a report on Technological Solutions for Sustainable Agriculture, which was adopted by the European Parliament last year, and she chairs a Better Regulation Task Force set up by the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the parliament.
She said: ‘These events highlighted a range of areas where effective harnessing of innovation will boost productivity while protecting the environment and biodiversity.
“But I also had to warn that badly thought-out regulation could be the enemy of progress. I stressed the innovation principle – that regulation must always allow research and enterprise to drive innovation by using genuine science-based evidence in evaluating risk and benefit.
“This is where precision farming and information technology come in – improving soil-health and water management, precision livestock farming, precision breeding and even precision entomology.
“While the use of standard equipment with precision-farming techniques can prove beneficial, it is only with the development of what are called ‘disruptive’ technologies that real gains can be made.
“These are developments such as laser weed-killing systems and second-generation drones, capable of undertaking field tasks rather than simply capturing images.
“Farmers are the major stewards of our environment. They need continued access to innovation, new technology and research in order to produce food in a sustainable way and protect the environment for future generations.
“In that, they need help not hindrance from the regulatory framework.”