3 October 2019
Beneficial insects in organic greenhouses

Workshop for growers at Northdown Orchard, Hants

23 October 2019
Soil nutrient management

A workshop with Mark Measures



17 September 2019
The Diversification Cluster web page has been launched!

Six Horizon 2020 projects are working together in the crop diversification cluster

17 September 2019
Organic World Congress 2020 call for contributions

20th Organic World Congress in France, September 2020



21 March 2019
In adversity, what are farmers doing to be more resilient?

Opportunities, barriers and constraints in organic techniques helping to improve the sustainability of conventional farming

Challenging GM

Beatrix Tappeser reported on German developments regarding GM crops, focusing on ways to reduce GM contamination, including German nature conservation laws, GM-free regions formed by farmers and towns. Pete Riley presented data on weeds with tolerance against herbicides used in GM herbicide tolerant crops. Sixteen weed biotypes are currently resistant against the market leader Roundup and pesticide spraying is increasing in the US in GM crops. Julia Wright focused on work in Cuba to reduce drought vulnerability. Approaches included education, drought tolerant varieties and rainwater capture. It was discussed that public awareness about herbicide resistant weeds should be increased.

Beatrix Tappeser reported on German developments regarding genetically modified (GM) crops, focusing on ways to reduce GM contamination in the field. German nature conservation laws aim to protect nature reserves by defining minimal distances between nature reserves and GM crops. In addition, farmers have formed GM-free regions with annual renewal of membership. Some towns and churches are GM-free by using tenancy agreements on their estates to prohibit GM use. An unresolved issue is GM contamination in seed.

Pete Riley presented data on weeds with tolerance against herbicides used in GM herbicide tolerant (GMHT) crops. Monsanto, whose patent on Roundup ran out in 2000, are market leaders in GMHT crops, but all major agrochemical companies developed GMHT crops. Sixteen weed biotypes are currently resistant against Roundup. Problem weeds with tolerance against herbicides include Palmer\'s Amaranth, which appeared in 2005 and is now affecting 0.1-1m acres. Pesticide spraying is increasing in the US in GM crops, but as problems with herbicide tolerance come up, even hand pulling of weeds is now done in US cotton on a large scale.

Julia Wright focused on work in Cuba to reduce drought vulnerability. Approaches included education, drought tolerant varieties (non-GM) and rainwater capture from roofs. Collaborating with Permaculture Research Institute, Australia, rainwater use was optimized via swales and mulching (see \"Greening the Desert\" on Youtube). Despite the project\'s successes in making farms drought proof, official Cuban policy remains focused on agroindustrial solutions.

In the discussion it was noted that forecasts for GM drought resistant varieties have been vague. There is not much awareness in the UK about herbicide resistant weeds and actions were proposed to make these more widely known. It was commented that underestimated complexity of gene regulation has resulted in poor delivery of GM technology in complex traits like drought resistance.

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