Why should people know?

There’s been a lot of fuss recently on t’interwebs about a young lady from Blackpool called Gemma Worrall. Apparently she’s a beautician and indulges in the popular pastime of twittering (using an online messaging service to send out short messages, m’lud). It brought her fame after she tweeted: “Why is our president Barraco Barner getting involved with Russia, scary.”

Cue a gazillion messages from people poking fun at the alleged idiocy of Ms Worrall. I don’t think she’s an idiot. I think she’s been watching British television news, listening to British radio and, possibly, reading British newspapers. In all of them, lazy self-styled journalists report US politics as if they were our own,
while ignoring our closest neighbours, or even our own country (ies) outside London.

We only hear about a French president if his love life gets messy and it’s only because she’s such a character that Angela Merkel gets reported. You can spend a lifetime reading UK newspapers and never find out who runs Belgium or the Netherlands. So it’s no surprise that our cover story reveals many people in Europe have never heard of the CAP. The European Commission, bless it, is very pleased Europeans seem to support the CAP, but it worries me that precious few people know about agricultural policy or agriculture. They need to be better informed.

I nearly put the metaphorical red pencil through all of the above when I read the following quote: “We need to deploy the very best, most productive technologies that are available – and given that the genetic modification of crops is probably the most powerful of all such techniques, it is clear Britain needs to act now to smooth the path for its deployment. After 30 years, it is time to take GM crops to the nation.” It was an editorial in last week’s Observer. I’m taken aback at such a positive view from an organ at the sandal-wearing end of opinion. It’s also given me cause to think about my cynicism about the government advisers’ report on GM crops, featured in our news pages – and then go back to being cynical.

It would be great if GM crops could be developed and if we could take full advantage of biotechnology in crop production. The thing that’s holding that back isn’t legislators and it isn’t the awful EU. It’s the public. Last time I was in a restaurant there was still a great big promise that they’d avoid GM across the bottom of the menu. There’s a reason why they put that. People aren’t persuaded. British farmers need the best technology, but they don’t need the technology to grow food people won’t eat. That’s the problem that needs to be solved with the right leadership, from someone.

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