Rural round-up

NZ could miss out on gene-editing revolution – Richard MacManus:

Is the gene editing revolution passing New Zealand by?

New Zealand is a proudly GE-free country, meaning it is illegal to produce or sell genetically engineered foods here. There are some exclusions for processed foods that have imported GE ingredients, like soy or corn flour, but they must be approved by a local authority and clearly labelled. However, there is zero tolerance for GE in fresh foods – including foods bound for export. Considering that New Zealand’s “clean green” brand is a key part of our export trade, it makes sense that GE foods are treated with caution here. But are we being too conservative, given that a new technology called CRISPR is opening up opportunities for both our economy and our environment.

CRISPR (pronounced crisper) has made gene editing nearly as simple as editing a website. Tools like CRISPR-Cas9 allow scientists to edit parts of a genome by removing, adding or altering sections of its DNA sequence. It is truly a brave new world. . . 

Objective carcase measurement – essential or just nice to have Allan Barber:

Objective carcase management (OCM) appears to be the holy grail for Meat and Livestock Australia judging by its plan to seek A$150 million from the Australian government to fund the installation of Dual Energy X-ray 3D carcase grading technology (DEXA) in up to 90 slaughterhouses, intended to roll out this year. The loan would be repaid from industry levies, although there are no firm details yet about how the costs would be shared.

When MLA announced Project 150 in November 2016, the Beef and Sheep Councils of Australia were both in favour, but the executive officer of the Australian Beef Association came out saying it shouldn’t be the producers but the processors who paid for it. More recently both the processor funded Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) and levy funded Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) have come out against rushing into such an expensive project without proper analysis and a robust business case. . .

Taking aim at Fish & Game over conflict of interests – Andrew McGiven:

I saw that Fish & Game held a national “take a kid out fishing day” a few weeks ago. While I applaud anyone who can encourage our children to ditch the video games and get outside to experience the great outdoors, it did raise several questions.

Why, for example, are we trying so hard to improve the health of our fresh waterways when the likes of Fish & Game are paid to protect invasive, predatory species such as trout and salmon, which actively decimate our native species such as koura (New Zealand freshwater cray)?

When sediment is such a major component of our water degradation, why is it that koi carp can pillage our river systems, collapsing river banks and stirring up soil, and yet this problem has been largely ignored by the organisation. 

It is discouraging when farmers work hard at establishing wetlands and native groves only to have them poisoned in a few short years by wildfowl E. coli. . . 

Rural women make a huge contribution to agriculture – Sonita Chandar:

Fiona Gower is a true “Rural Woman” having lived and worked in the rural sector most of her life.

As the new president of Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ), she has set herself several goals to accomplish during her term.

Her greatest aspiration is for RWNZ to be seen as the organisation of choice within the wider sector for all women, communities, organisations and decision makers. . . 

Heightened readiness for Stink Bug threat:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says activities to prevent the establishment of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) have ramped up over summer and helped raise public awareness of what is a serious biosecurity threat.

“This is a major agricultural pest worldwide, as well as a household nuisance. While it is found here from time to time, if it became established it would have significant economic and social impacts,” says Mr Guy.

“BMSB has been rapidly spreading across the world and there have been increasingly more finds detected at the New Zealand border. Three confirmed post border finds occurred during February, all reported by members of the public. . . 

Brazil intent on expanding beef markets in Asia, as Australian sector urged to differentiate itself – Lydia Burton:

A senior Rabobank economist says the Australian beef industry should continue to focus on differentiating its products as Brazil expands its markets in Asia.

Brazil took over from Australia as the largest exporter of beef to China in 2016, offering a cheaper protein, and has strong interest in South Korea and re-opening trade with Japan.

Japan suspended Brazilian beef imports in 2012 after it was found an animal had died of mad cow disease.

Indonesia has also been expressing interest for some years in opening up a live cattle trade with Brazil, with biosecurity protocols currently being discussed. . . 

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